Sunday, 23 December 2012

23rd December 2012 - O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel you are our king and judge, the one whom the peoples await, and their Saviour. O come and save us O Lord our God.

The Hebrew name invoked in today's Advent antiphon means 'God is with us'. Isaiah's prophecy of the Messiah's birth (7:14), declares that the One to come as saviour will bear this name. 

The evangelists name Jesus as the one to fulfil Isaiah's inspired expression of hope in God's power to save his people, through his unique birth, and the impeccable life of self sacrificial love and service which follows. 

In Jesus, God becomes present in human flesh, not in any abstract philosophical ideal way, but in the personal reality of this man whose story the Gospels recount. Because of Jesus nobody can say that God doesn't understand the trials and tribulations human beings go through.

One can argue about the necessity of his sinless conception birth, or the sinlessness of any child that is born for that matter. If the inclination to sinful behaviour is of genetic origin, what is even more vital is the freedom human beings have to resist inclination and impulse, by direction our attention elsewhere, to higher things. "If you are risen with Christ seek the things which are above where Christ is." said St Paul. God has given human beings the ability not to sin, and in Jesus we see that freedom can be lived fully, in the face of the most evil and life threatening temptations possible. It is an ability and freedom each person must take ownership of in coming to know God.

In showing us His way, at such close quarters, he rescues us from all that threatens to overpower and annihilate us. If we stumble and fall, experience any setback, He doesn't take over control unless really necessary. His way is to help us to our feet, and show us the paths we have a choice to follow. He goes wherever we go. We learn the truth with Him and from His guidance. In this, he is the most gentle of judges, concerned only for the welfare of those who are his own sisters and brothers.

Emmanuel, God-with-us, is the One who accompanies our journey through life, who encourages us to live for others and not for ourselves, as we learn first how to live for God. It's when we give time to God in silence and stillness, opening ourselves to the infinite to be filled with the Spirit that we are given strength to love, and find in this life's fulfilment.

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