“The virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”

We continue to hear from Isaiah (7:10-14), the foremost prophet who foretells the coming of the Messiah.  Some folks get caught up in the fact that the Christ’s actual given name was Jesus, per the angel Gabriel (Lk 1:31).  But this is not the point.  Today’s gospel gives us the explanation.  Joseph, the “master dreamer” (cf. Gen 37:19), is told by an angel that he is to be the caretaker of the child who is “God is with us,” telling us who He is.  The name “Jesus” only adds to this by telling us the why He comes: “God saves.”

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We know that God is always with His people in spirit.  Any good Jew of Isaiah’s time or living in 4 B.C. would have told you so, pointing to the many episodes in history when the Lord made Himself manifest to the Chosen People.  But Yahweh in the flesh?  How much more intimate could the Lord get to us but by becoming one of us?  This exercise in love and humility should render us dumbstruck.  Yet we too easily take it for granted.  Advent is the ideal time to gain an appreciation for the condescension of the Almighty for the sake of poor humanity, especially the reader.

And the legacy the God-Man left us?  The Eucharist!  God with us, saving us.  Here He becomes closer to us than we are to ourselves.  Never miss the opportunity to take advantage of this great gift.  And let us always be prepared to receive Him worthily through our lives and the great sacrament of Reconciliation.  Prepare your heart to receive Him this Advent season and then say “Stay with us” Lord (Lk 24:29).

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