Monday, December 13, 2010
Matthew 1:18-25 tells us about Joseph's reluctance to take Mary home as his wife after he finds out that she is pregnant by the Holy Spirit. What proves fruitful for prayer for me in the passage are the names for the child. The angel tells Joseph he is to name the child Jesus (Hebrew is Jehoshua) which means "Yahweh saves," because he is the one who will save his people from their sins. The pilgrimage to Galilee brought home to me very forcefully the humanity of Jesus. God really did take on our full human nature to save all humanity.
Matthew quotes the prophet Isaiah who says that the child will be called "Emmanuel," which means "God-with-us." This name is repeated over and over again in my favorite Advent hymn and has always seemed to me so full of promise. I find it striking that Matthew repeats this promise at the end of his Gospel as Jesus says, "I am with you always." In Zefferelli's film "Jesus of Nazareth" he has the risen Jesus speaking these same words to his disciples in a very intimate atmosphere. It is deeply moving as the actor speaks them directly into the camera, directly to the viewer.
God within us and in others and in everything in our beautiful world is the heart of what Jesus means to me.