4th Sunday of Advent: God is With Us

By Sr. Catherine Cleary, OSB

1st  Reading: Is 7:10-14 “The virgin shall bear a son and shall name him Immanuel”; 2nd Reading: Rom 1:1-7 “Through him we belong to Jesus Christ, and are called to be holy” Gospel: Mt 1: 18-24 “And they shall call him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”

Today is the fourth and final Sunday of Advent. The readings sound (almost pound!) in our ears. They seem to say, “Don’t you get it, surely by now you understand.” This infant is GOD. Today’s first reading and the Gospel tell us his name is Emmanuel, meaning “I am with you always until the end of the age.”(MT 28:20).

God says to us, “I am with you in sickness and in health, your pain, your joys and delights, in your quandaries, and your fears. I care about you, love you, want the best for you. I am not a despot who created you and left you on your own, nor one who programs your every move. No, I am a loving, compassionate, caring parent who wants the very best for you, but gives you free will allowing you to choose.  Furthermore, my Son came to earth to show you how much I love you, and to show you how to live.”

The Church has set aside these 4 weeks to remind us to find some silence in our lives. To summarize, in the 1st week we are to become aware that we are called to be transformed though prayer and sacrifices. In the 2nd week, we are to reach out to others in faith, and in the 3rd week we are to care for others and bring them hope. And now in the 4th week, we are reminded that this Infant we have waited for is really God who dwells with us. A God has come to earth, was born in a stable, visited by shepherds, sung to by angels, gifted by Kings. We name him Emmanuel, God with us.

Reflections:
•    The incarnation of Jesus Christ means God is present everywhere.  All of creation is permeated with the presence of God.  By slowing down this week, who and what commands our reverence, patience and prayer?
•    Can we literally give God a voice, arms, love and form as we go about preparing for Emmanuel, God with us?

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