This Sunday, the first reading from Isaiah tells of the eventual birth of Christ. Isaiah prophecies that the Lord will give mankind a sign, a son born of a virgin mother, to be called Emmanuel. St. Paul, in the second reading, reminds us that Christ was put here on earth “as Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of holiness. (Isaiah 1:4) Then in the gospel reading from St. Matthew, we hear the story of the nativity, referencing the fulfillment of Isaiah’s words. Here it is reiterated that Christ will be called Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” This is a good reminder at the conclusion of the Advent season. The gospel tells us that Christ’s coming is the true manifestation of God here on earth, and the name Emmanuel is a literal representation of this.
The name Emmanuel is also a reminder to all of us that God is with us, even now in our everyday lives. It is easy during Advent or other important liturgical seasons to feel God’s presence more strongly. During the Christmas season we hear stories of incredible generosity and kindness, many in the name of Christmas spirit. Food banks and Homeless Shelters and other social welfare institutions report higher donations and volunteers during the holidays. Generosity and volunteering of time is always a rewarding way to live out the gospel, but to truly embrace the spirit of Christ as Emmanuel, we must do our best to keep God with us throughout the entire year, not just during holiday seasons. Pope Francis’s message of the importance of ministering to the poor and marginalized is applicable here especially. The Holy Father encourages us to see the face of God in everyone, especially in those who are most in need. We must remember that God is with us, in every aspect of our life, and we must strive to carry the spirit of kindness and generosity throughout the whole year.
Rebecca Ruesch is the Blog Editor for the Catholic Apostolate Center