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Fourth Sunday of Advent – Cycle A

17 December 2022

Reflecting on Matthew 1: 18-24

I’m confused. Is the child’s name to be Jesus—Yeshua, which means “God saves”— or is it to be Emmanuel, which means God with us? How can this Child have two distinct names? That’s a question that bothers the careful reader of today’s Gospel.

First, though, a fun distinction between how Luke and Matthew handle the Name. Luke, that great lover of Mary, says that SHE is going to name her Son. (1:31). HA! A woman naming her own child? Unheard of.

Matthew, writing to a Jewish audience, remembers this scene differently. His narrative of the birth of Jesus is told through the eyes of Joseph. That’s wonderful, since without Matthew’s account we’d know nothing about Joseph at all. And, of course, it is Joseph who shall name the Son. The father names the child, and Joseph will take on the role of the father of this miraculously conceived Child.

And how rich it is, in Matthew, that Jesus will have two names. He will come to save us. But he will also come to be with us. By giving him these two names, Matthew starts healing us right away. We need a savior. We need help in illness and death. We need help with our aging parents. We need a savior for our troubled children. But we need a God who is with us as we face these agonizing trials.

From the start, we know that Jesus will be with us. And at the very end, as Jesus is ascending to heaven, he says, “And lo, I am with you always, to the end of the age (28:20).

A savior? Yes. Who is with us? Oh, yes. O come, O come, Emmanuel.

How do you sense that God is with you?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

Advent - Cycle A

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