1st Reading: Isaiah 7:10–14
The Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying: Ask for a sign from the Lord, your God; let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky! But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask! I will not tempt the Lord!” Then Isaiah said: Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary people, must you also weary my God? Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.
2nd Reading: Romans 1:1–7
Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised previously through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, the gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh, but established as Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we have received the grace of apostleship, to bring about the obedience of faith, for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles, among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ; to all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Gospel: Matthew 1:18–24
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.
JESUS IS EMMANUEL: Jesus is Emmanuel. He is God with us. For Jesus to come and live with a person, one must first truly acknowledge that Jesus is Emmanuel. A person must accept and believe that Jesus is God coming to dwell with us. God can only come to a person if he or she has made proper preparations to welcome him. Preparations to welcome Jesus begin by first of all acknowledging that one is God’s creature, and is not equal to Jesus. After that one has to examine oneself to see whether he or she is worthy to receive Jesus. The thing which makes our creator not to come and dwell with us is sin. Welcoming God in our midst means doing away with sins from our lives. Preparations for Christmas without the sacrament of reconciliation is no preparation.
Prayer: May our sins not prevent you from coming to dwell among us. Lord.
LETTING GO THE EGO AND LETTING GOD IN: The Name Immanuel is determined from above before centuries. “God with us” is a sign. God takes control of history with His abiding presence. In a world where quick fix solutions and instant gratification is the order of the day, God decides with no less than His son. He ordains His son to confront the world deep stuck in the mire of worldliness, coldness and apathy. Here is a God who just not makes His occasional presence, who just does not parachute into the world to take note of a situation. He is Immanuel, a God constantly “at hand”. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save the people from their sins (Mt 1: 21). Human effort to redeem himself, to repair himself always appeared one step forward, two step backward. This worrying trend certainly provokes some pertinent questions. When and where will man stop depending on his capacities. When will he realize the inalienable role of the Divine to raise him up from his fallen state. Let us throw up our hands, say enough is enough: but attempt to hold on to that Immanuel.