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Fourth Sunday of Advent – Cycle A

21 December 2013

Reflecting on Mt. 1: 18-24

O come, O come, Emmanuel.

When my friend Emily was a freshman in high school, she was reading Matthew’s gospel in Theology class.  When she came across the section where the angel told Joseph to name the child “Jesus” she was stumped.  Huh?  Why does the angel tell Joseph to name the Baby “Jesus” when, just one sentence later, we read that all this is to fulfill what the prophet Isaiah said, which was that the Child would be called  “Emmanuel”?

I nodded wisely and assured her that once she was older she would understand the many hidden complexities of Matthew’s gospel. Then I went home and scrambled to find a decent answer to give her.  It’s only taken me twelve years, Emily, but here’s my attempt.

The author of Matthew’s gospel (which we are now reading for an entire year) desperately wants us to know that Christ will never leave us.  The historical Jesus, the actual person who was born in Bethlehem, smuggled out into Egypt by his wise father, baptized by John in the Jordan, began his public ministry in the Galilee at thirty, was crucified by Pontius Pilate, suffered, died, and was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea―that historical person, our Savior, was named Jesus (or “Yeshua”—God saves).

After his resurrection, on the day he ascended to heaven, he said these very last words to his disciples, and to us: Behold, I am WITH YOU always, even to the end of time. So, Matthew’s 28 chapters begin and end with that promise.  He is with us.  Emmanuel. In sickness and health and sorrow and joy, and yes, for all eternity.

O come, O come, Emmanuel.

In what ways do you sense that Christ is “with you”?

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I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Advent - Cycle A

One Comments to “Fourth Sunday of Advent – Cycle A”

  1. I love the way you explained the Matthew synthesis. This makes me reflect if and how my lowly life could struggle towards that “book ends” synthesis.
    Merry Christmas to you who constantly feed us.

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