Last Updated:Saturday - 12/11/2010
December 17, 2007
Christ – the real and definitive Christmas present
Scripture For Advent
Salvation history is not something that belongs to the past only, but to the present and the future as well. What happened in Israel in the days of Isaiah, the psalmist, Paul and Matthew has relevance for today and for tomorrow.
Examine the Sunday readings to see how. Isaiah recounts an incident between the Ahaz, the king of Israel, and himself. He says that the Lord freely and graciously gave a sign to the king, that deliverance would come to the royal house and for the people of Israel.
GOD IS WITH US
The sign was of a young woman who would unexpectedly bear a son and he would be called Immanuel. The Hebrew name is significant, since it means "God is with us." The sign was a confirmation of God's continued presence with the people. This was to give them hope for the trials they experienced and for what would come in the future.
The psalmist corroborates Isaiah's steadfast belief that the Lord is ever-with the Israelites. The psalmist reminds his listeners that it is the Lord who created the earth and all within it.
The Lord welcomes his people to his dwelling place as long as they are prepared to meet him. This is the challenge for the people - they must search for God. The sign that they will be successful is when God will bless them and vindicate them. God's act is a gift that will be given to those in need of redemption.
Paul, in his letter to the Romans, also speaks of God's salvific plan. Paul was a servant of Christ, which meant that he was committed to preaching and teaching about him.
The apostolic work of Paul was to bring the message of the Gospel to everyone. The reason for this is because everyone is called to holiness. God's beloved are called to be saints and to truly experience God's saving presence amongst them.
Matthew's Gospel records the birth of Jesus, who fulfilled the promise to King David that there would be a Messiah to sit on his throne forever. Jesus was this anointed one, from the Davidic line, through his adoptive father, Joseph.
However, this coming of the Messiah, who was, de facto, the Son of God, as a little baby, was hardly believable for Joseph until God sent him a sign in the form of a dream that confirmed that the unexpected pregnancy of Mary was truly the work of the Holy Spirit.
Mary's conception brings a fuller understanding of the word of Isaiah that "the virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel." Jesus is the new Emmanuel, since he is truly "God with us."
The readings this fourth Advent Sunday, illustrate the importance of being open to the work of God in the ordinary reality of our life. Signs are freely given by God as his gracious gift to us.
The Church's liturgical cycle of Advent is one of those pointers to help us realize that God is at work in the world for us, since he has created us and loves us and calls us to believe in the mystery of the advent of Christ, the real and definitive Christmas present.
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