“[Y]ou are to name him Jesus.…”
In his first chapter Matthew goes to great lengths to relate the human ancestry of … Jesus? No, of Joseph, the husband of Mary, to whom was born Jesus the Christ. Through the angel, Joseph is asked to become Jesus’ legal father. And by naming the child, Joseph complies with God’s request. Jesus becomes “Son of David.”
This is another of God’s marvelous interventions in human history. Sarah, Hannah (the wife of Manoah), and Mary’s cousin Elizabeth all conceived sons when conception seemed impossible. Gideon routed the Midianites with only a few hundred men. Samson performed feats of extraordinary strength. The Maccabees fought against overwhelming odds to overthrow the Seleucids. And now, here again, God is entering perceptibly into human events. He is becoming present in an entirely new way.
Yet the Lord is always present! He cares about his sons and daughters! His interventions in our lives are usually cloaked in ordinary events, but they are real nonetheless. Have we ever marveled when a difficult situation was unexpectedly resolved? Have we ever felt gently chided: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (cf. Mt 14:31). As Saint Paul says, when we’re in difficulty and temptation, God will give us a way out (cf. 1 Cor 10:13). Each of us may remember some examples of this in our own lives. “If God is for us,” asks Paul, “who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31).
Now, one week before Christmas, we might continue reflecting with Paul on what our Father has done for us: “God sent his Son, born of a woman” (Gal 4:4); “He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not give us everything else along with him?” (Rom 8:32).
Yes! Emmanuel is coming—God with us! Let us prepare our hearts to welcome him.
Father in heaven, you sent your Son into the world to be our brother, companion, and Savior. In him your ever-present love for us became visible, and we recognize your care and concern for each of us. Help us to be grateful always that Jesus came into the world as one of us. May we trust firmly in your providence, especially when life becomes difficult and seems to lose meaning, joy, or peace. May we place our hopes in your Son and trust that he is with us, sharing our burdens, our sorrows, our joys.
“They shall name him Emmanuel.”
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2009). Advent Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections (pp. 66–67). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.