During the season of Advent we have been treated by the Prophet Isaiah’s dream about what God is going to bring about among his people. Isaiah dares to dream about a world where there will be no more training for war, and where a child will lead mankind into a world where the lion and the lamb will be friends, and where no one will go astray, or experience any harm on God’s holy mountain. He writes of a great sign that will be given, “the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel. A name that means that God is with us.”
Bishop Robert Barron speaks about Emmanuel when he writes: "But the Bible alone indicates that God’s truest name and most distinctive quality is that he will be with us. In good times and bad, during periods of light and darkness, when we are rejoicing and grieving, God is stubbornly with us. Emmanuel.”
It is the stubbornly quality of God’s love that we celebrate at Christmas. His love breaks through all the obstacles of politics and government, all the obstacles of human pride and pomp, all the displays of ego and power, as well as our indifference to the obstacles of wont, poverty, and ignorance, that threatens to hurl man down into the abyss of quiet desperation and hopelessness.
E.E. Cummings, the great American poet writes, “A baby is God’s opinion that life should continue.” A baby brings life, hope and the possibility of new beginnings. It was for this reason that Jesus, Emmanuel, humbled himself to share our humanity, so that we could share in his divinity. This coming of the Son of God, in the flesh, is what has made the human race great again, and not the machinations of men.
The New Year, 2017, will be a very challenging year for us as Americans, and as followers of Jesus. May the birth of Jesus, who is Emmanuel, fill our hearts with wonder and praise, and give us the grace to proclaim Emmanuel, God with us, to a lonely and suffering world.
My prayer for all of us is that Jesus, God with us, will fill us with his joy and peace this Christmas, and give us renewed hope in the coming New Year. A Blessed Christmas and New Year to you and your families.
Rev. Roger C. Gagné,