Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call him Emmanuel, which means ‘God-is-with-us’ – Matt 1:23. That God is with us is a four-word summary of the Good News. In fact Matthew seems to frame his entire Gospel within the boundaries of 1:23 (God is with us) and 28:20 (I am with you always…) as he tells the story of how God, Emmanuel, is with us always. The season of Advent/Christmas is a good way of seeing what Jesus, the Incarnation of God, is about. To accept the gospel is to have faith and trust that God is with us in good times, and at other times too.
Many who read this blog are living in a world that appears to have a problem with the very word ‘God’. Atheism or unbelief in God is an ideology that’s a comparatively recent arrival in the world, and the phenomenon is more or less confined to the “affluent West”. Novelist Somerset Maughan wrote: “Since the beginning of time the vast majority of people, including the greatest and the wisest of them, from a wide variety of different cultures, have accepted some kind of a belief in God. How could such an instinct be so widespread and so compelling be less convincing than the relatively small number of people who hold such a view?”
The whole drama and mystery of Mary’s pregnancy almost shattered Joseph’s plans until the Lord visited him in a dream and told him not to be afraid of what happening. He surrendered and felt drawn to something by a power that was greater than himself. Do not be afraid! To experience the power of God’s presence and to surrender to it is to be transformed. To surrender to God is to become a new person that lives and generously gives from a new-found abundance and vision. Joseph took generously to the road that would lead to Bethlehem and beyond.
O Lord, you search me and you know me… Psalm 138 is a prayer I listen to every morning. It comes in music form and puts me in God’s presence and leads to a deeper way of being. I once heard Irish poet Seamus Heaney say in a talk that the images, words, shapes, sounds and smells that surround him daily lead him to a better sense of what’s real but often hidden in life. May the great stories and sounds and symbols of Christmas lead us to the reality of God’s abiding presence in our midst. “It is a basic conviction of Christians that God is known and close and seeks to encounter us” – Irish theologian Thomas O’Loughlin.

Fr. QQ – 12/15/2022

“God saw the world falling to ruin because of fear, and immediately acted to call it back with love” Peter Chrysologus (5th cent).


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