This is the long awaited, always expected something we have lived for.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
How can one even imagine Advent without the prophet Isaiah? How is it that this man living a couple hundred years after King David, and 7 centuries before Christ could speak so remarkable about Christ?
Prophets are sort of like radios, they have the ability to tune into the Divine frequency of God himself, and broadcast that information to others in human language.
He tells us “Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” This is so key to St. Mathew. He is trying to show the early Christian community that Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, God’s Christ is in fact the person being for told in Isaiah Ch. 7.
The real world events of Christ’s life are being written down, and foretold by the Prophet some 700 years before they happen. This name of Immanuel is very key to the significance of this passage. God is with us. Not only is God with us, God has humbled himself and become one of us.
Here we sit some 2000 years later, with the benefit of hindsight, and look at this same incomprehensible event of the incarnation. The Church in her wisdom lays out the liturgical year for us so that we have a mechanism by which to see the key aspects of Christ’s life and works each year.
It is Anno Domini 2019; the very way we identify time is linked directly back to the incarnation of Christ. Why? Because it is the single most important moment in all of human history. Why do we kneel or bow at that point in the Creed when the incarnation is referenced? Because it is so key to the meaning of humanity.
There will for some of be an “ah ha” moment, a gestalt. I get them once in a while myself. St. Paul had one on the road to Damascus. If you spend enough time with Sacred Scripture and mentally putting the pieces together, once in a great while something will just click.
The Lectionary writers help us a lot with this by helping us see the connections between the Old Testament and New Testament just like they do so well today.
St. Paul was no doubt one of the sharpest Jewish minds of his time, and among the Pharisaic community of which he was a part. When he encountered the risen Lord on the road to Damascus he saw the big picture of what God had done and was doing. In that moment of comprehension, he realized who the person of Christ was, and what the significance of the Incarnation was. He was mentally so overwhelmed as to be made blind for a time.
St. Joseph gets it as well. Just imagine the faith this man had. His young wife being with child. He believes the Angel of the Lord when he says “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save is people from their sins.”
Then in the immediately following passage St. Mathew takes up Isaiah 7 and makes it so plain for us we can scarcely miss the connection. St. Mathew’s Gospel is directed to a largely Jewish audience, and they would not miss this connection either. No doubt those who could took the text of the Gospels, their own understanding, and went back to the Prophet Isaiah and compared notes. For many, and I hope each of you, see the fact that the connections are just to profound to be the product of chance.
The Advent of God’s Christ into humanity is the absolute key to seeing how the economy of salvation comes together in the most brilliant, unexpected way we could ever imagine. The King of Kings, the Lord of Lords now not only is the God of his people, he will become one of the people, in everything but sin
I hope in what is left of this Advent season you take some time to really reflect on coming of the incarnation. Pull the pieces together in your minds, and quietly reflect on the significance of Christ Jesus becoming fully human, and fully divine in that one instant.
A good Advent devotion would be to spend a little bit of time in your daily readings taking a look at the words of the Prophet Isaiah, then look over the texts of the Gospels. See and feel the connections there, and realize this is very profound.
Then on a personal spiritual level ask the question. “How do I, in my own limited human way, make the incarnation real and present in this broken world around me?” It is sort of like moonlight. The moon does often cast warm and beautiful light to the night sky, but we know the moon is not the source of any light at all, but rather it reflects the light from a much greater source. So it is with the Christ and the Christian. We know we are not the source of the light, but we can reflect it to others in our lives.
The O antiphons capture these readings and the season so well
O come, O come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Fr. Randy Rogers