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O Emmanuel - God is with us

Saturday, December 23, 2006
Readings: Malachi 3:1-4,23-24; Psalm 24; Luke 1:57-66

‘O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver, the hope of the nations and their Saviour: come and save us, Lord our God’. The prophet Isaiah wrote: ‘therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son and shall name him Emmanuel’ (7:14). Emmanuel means ‘God is with us’. In Matthew’s gospel (1:23) the Old Testament verse is obviously understood to be foretelling the birth of Christ. How might we understand the significance of this name of God’s anointed son?

The use of the name Emmanuel in this way by the gospel writer has the intention of guiding the hearer’s attention to the incarnation itself. How is God with us? God is with us in a human being who walked among us and underwent suffering similar to our own, unencumbered only by sin. God, in Christ, came to accompany us in our journey and struggles, not only in the spirit but in the reality of flesh and blood. Part of our struggle as human beings is the knowledge that we can only go so far in understanding and sharing the paths of our contemporaries: our love has its flaws and limitations. It is only God who can truly walk with all, for He came to share the space of each one of us for all time in Jesus, who blends human experience and divine perspective.

O Emmanuel, our King and lawgiver, for whom the nations wait, their Saviour: come to save us, Lord, our God.


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