O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, Lord our God!
Emmanuel. God-with-us. These words are the start of the most radical and unconventional religion. Truly, think about it. We Christians fully believe that God, the divine, almighty, eternal God, became human…..? What prior religious tradition does that fit into? What group of people would that even make sense to? Gods don’t become human. Humans might strive for godhood or perhaps have godlike qualities, but gods and men are two fundamentally different things.
Until Emmanuel. The Incarnation of Jesus is a mystery of mysteries that we are still unfolding and will continue to ponder until Jesus returns again. Think back to our very first antiphon. Jesus, O Wisdom, the Word, is God who existed before the world began and indeed is outside of our concept of time. This same Jesus became a human, born of a woman. He came as the smallest and weakest of all of us, the new shoot from the root of Jesse in the early spring. He heralds the radiant dawn of a new day, a new order of creation. Jesus lived in a historical place and occupied a specific period of time. He walked, talked, ate, worked, celebrated and sorrowed with people every day. Jesus, Emmanuel, God-with-us.
Jesus is the overabundance of God’s love for His people. The Jewish people had been longing for a savior. We have united our longing with theirs through these antiphons. God fulfilled His promises in an unimaginable way. Instead of simply sending a mighty leader as the majority of Jews expected, God Himself came to save His people.
God continues in His generosity and overabundance. Jesus didn’t simply save the nations from the slavery of sin and death. He also gifted us with His very Body and Blood so that we might continue to be united in communion with Him and one another. He went even further than that. Before ascending into heaven, Jesus promised that His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, would come down upon the apostles and remain with them.
God-with-us isn’t just a historical event. Emmanuel isn’t only in the manger.
Jesus, Emmanuel, is the here and now. Even as we anticipate the celebration of Jesus’ birth, do not be fooled into thinking that He isn’t born anew each time you invite Him into your heart.
*** Please feel free to share your experience, thoughts and offer support to one another in the comments, on Twitter with the #DailyGraces or on the Facebook page.