An Advent reflection on this Sunday’s readings: Isaiah 7:10-14; Matthew 1:18-24
By Sr. Anne Arabome, SSS, associate director of the Faber Center
In the scripture readings for this Sunday, Prophet Isaiah and Matthew the Evangelist announce: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us’.”
This is a stunning, almost unbelievable claim. The Prophet Isaiah lived in a time of turbulence, as did Mary and Joseph, the parents of the promised Messiah. Yet, they kept faith and believed not in some speculative future epiphany, but in the presence of God in their midst and the role they were to play to make that presence real for all.
In our times, could we say “God is with us” in the midst of so many challenges that confront humanity on a local and global scale? Think of instances of racial division, political infighting, xenophobia, intolerance — or sectarian violence, protracted wars and climate change. These crises lend ample justification for incredulity and doubt about Emmanuel, God-with-us.
The example of Mary and Joseph invites us to make this presence real through our prayer and our actions. Let’s pause and enter into that space in our innermost being where we encounter the presence of God and ask:
What do I need to do to let myself and others know that God is with us?
Where in my life do I experience God-with-us?
This exercise is what we do when we engage in daily Examen during which we reflect on our life and actions and endeavor to discover where we have experienced God-with-us and made that presence real for others. To discover this presence is to experience the true meaning of Advent and Christmas. O come O come, Emmanuel … show us the way!