Jer 23:5-8; Ps 72:1,2,12,13,18,19; Mt 1:18-25
“O Adonai: O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.”
The sacred Lord of ancient Israel shall govern his people with justice and his afflicted ones with judgment. He shall stretch out his mighty hand to rescue the poor and to help the afflicted. This LORD, who showed himself to Moses in a burning bush and who gave him the law upon the Sinai, does wondrous deeds. Blessed forever is the Name of the Ancient One! Blessed forever is the One who fills the whole earth with his glory. This is the glory that out does itself. As Saint Paul preaches we were made for the praise of his glory and we grow daily from glory to glory. The Prophet Isaiah joins in this enthusiasm by proclaiming that this new rescue from Exile will go so far beyond anything the Lord has yet done. Indeed, all people will marvel at the way his scattered people will return from Exile; the glory will abound even more than in the Exodus. The sacred Lord of ancient Israel continues to amaze his people. Not only does the Father stretch out his might hand, the Eternal Son becomes a man in the womb of the Virgin Mary. This Eternal Son is both Jesus and Emmanuel; he saves us from sin and He Is God dwelling among us. He is here, even now in this Eucharist, for wherever the King Abides there also abides the Kingdom.
The Prophet Jeremiah takes up our Advent Meditation with the cry, “the days are coming!” In this prophecy Jeremiah remembers, what the people no longer remember, that the LORD will raise up a holy ruler for His Holy People. This promised Son of David will reign and govern wisely; he will do what is right and just among the people. Among his whole and united people, Israel and Judah, the Son of David will reign secure. No longer shall the people remember the past saving deeds of the Lord. No longer shall they dwell in the past. They shall live in the grace of the present moment. The LORD’s saving action is now! The LORD who banished his people to the land of the north and to many far away places will gather in his people, and they will come home. This new People of God will dwell in justice and peace with the new descendent of King David to do what is just and right in the land. All this Advent excitement is not just for the ancient ones; it is for us this Advent. We must develop what the saints call, “holy forgetfulness.” We must become so empty and open that we welcome the new and amazing self-donation of our God. He gives us, not just gifts and graces, he gives us his very self. Can there be any greater gift? Indeed, this self-gift is what transforms us from glory to glory. We become holy; we become divinized in the days that are coming.
In the light of today’s gospel the bright glory of the Incarnation outshines the Exodus and the Exile put together. Saint Matthew tells with awe and wonder the marvels of the LORD who saves us from sin and darkness and brings us into the Kingdom of Light. When Saint Joseph heard of Mary’s pregnancy, he was no doubt shocked and scandalized. Because he found his delight in the Law of the Lord and because he was a kind man, he decided to divorce her quietly so that she would not be stoned. With this on his mind Saint Joseph could not sleep, and the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. This gave him a whole new perspective on “the troubles.” Indeed, this heavenly voice makes clear that her pregnancy is not from man but from the Holy Spirit. Not only does God rescue his people from slavery in Egypt and bring the exiles home from Babylon, the Lord God Almighty goes beyond the laws of his own creation. Beyond all expectation, even of the saintly carpenter Joseph, the Lord reveals his power to save. Not just doing something because he can do it, but working a great sign and wonder within the Virgin’s womb so that we touch and be touched by the very hand of the Living God. The Angel commands that they name him Jesus because he will save his people from sin. The Prophet reveals that his name shall be Emmanuel, which means God dwells with his people. Angels and prophets stammer in sheer awe and wonder at that which the Lord God Almighty is doing in the Virgin Mother. Though confused and full of questions, Saint Joseph is obedient and takes Mary into his home, as was the custom. However, unlike the custom, they did not have the normal intimacies so full of awe and wonder was this holy couple.