The Emmanuel - God is with us.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today's first reading starts with an imperative from God addressed to Ahaz. The Lord spoke to Ahaz and said:"Ask the Lord your God for a sign for yourself". Why this story important for us during Advent? Because during the reign Ahaz, the King of Israel and during the life the prophet Isaiah people felt abandoned by God. They lived with faith but they had a problem recognizing the presence of God. I think today we are in a similar situation. Yes, we are Catholics, we are people who believe but sometimes we ask: God, where are you? Today a few day's before Christmas we are called to answer this question: where is my God? Is He here in the Church or even better is He in my heart or maybe have I lost my God? As we are so busy preparing for Christmas we can lose sight of God. Today God repeats to us this same imperative addressed to Ahaz in the first reading: "Ask the Lord your God for a sign for yourself". Ahaz received the promise and the sign: It is this: the maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Emmanuel, a name which means "God-is-with-us".
Today we are called to discover once more, that it is true that God is with us. Even if some times I stray away from my God, even if sometimes I'm not able be sure of presence of God in my life. But God's promise to Ahaz and today God's promise to us is that He is Emmanuel: "God-is-with-us".
What does "God-is-with-us" mean? It means God knows everything about our life, all our successes and failures. But today's gospel speaks about another aspect of God's presence in our life. God shares our human nature, He know our problems and our doubts. Matthew speaks with all honesty in today's gospel:
This is how Jesus Christ come to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a man of honor and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorced her informally.
The story of how Jesus Christ came to be born may cause problems, it raises some doubts, with the temptation not to do God's will. Therefore, Joseph had made up his mind to divorce Mary informally, because he does not want to cause Mary public shame.
Pope Benedict speaks about that and wrote: "The designation of Joseph as a just man extends far beyond the decision he takes at this moment: it gives an overall picture of Saint Joseph and at the same time it aligns him with the great figures of the Old Covenant - beginning with Abraham, the just".
After the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream Joseph changed his decision because he was open to God's voice, he was open to God's will.
The angel came to Joseph in a dream. Once again this shows us an essential quality of the figure of Saint Joseph: his capacity to perceive the divine and his ability to discern. Only a man who is inwardly watchful for the divine, only someone with a real sensitivity for God and his ways, can receive God's massager in this way. And an ability to discern was necessary in order to know whether it was simply a dream or whether God's messenger had truly appeared to him and addressed him.
Today we are called to discern God's will, this is only possible if we listen carefully to the voice of God. In life we can meet different difficult situations and especially in these situations we are called to realise what God's will is. When we are afraid, when we don't have peace we need to remember the voice of the angel from today's gospel: "Do not be afraid". Don't be scared take on this task, one that might well arouse fear. "Do not be afraid" the very words that the angel of the annunciation had spoken to Mary. Today, during our difficulties God speaks to us: Do not be afraid. Because our God is a God who is very close to us, His name is Emmanuel "God is with us". If I discover that this true, if I want to be able to listen carefully to the voice of God I can't be silent and don't speak about my God. Today before Christmas the world, our country, our society and our community need to receive the message that God is with us. We heard about this in the today's second reading, were St Paul wrote: "From Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus who has been called to be an apostle, and specially chosen to preach the Good News that God promised long ago through his prophets in the scriptures". Today Paul can't preach the Good News to the world in person but we as living Christians, we are called to speak about Christ who wants to be born in our life. That is today's challenge for us: Do I want to open a space for God and speak about God? Because today's world needs God and needs people who trust in God.