Tìm Kiếm

19 tháng 12, 2016

Homily for 4th Sunday of Advent - Year A (December 18, 2016)

Emmanuel - God is with us
My dear brothers and sisters,
The liturgy today gives us some background for the Christmas feast that we need to take to heart.
In the First Reading, Ahaz was told to ask for a sign, a sign for himself coming either from the depths of Sheol or from the heights above. The Lord himself, therefore, will give him a sign. It is this: the maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Emmanuel, a name which means "God-is-with-us”.
The sign given to Ahaz was both from above and from below – a maiden with child who would be called God-is-with-us. To Ahaz at that point of salvation history the prophecy is not clear. It will become clear as time goes on. Heaven will live on earth in a human child who is truly God.
In the second reading, St. Paul speaks of our Lord's connection to King David.  St. Joseph is a direct descendant of David - it's the reason why he goes with Mary to register for the census decreed by Rome. Bethlehem is the city of David's birth.  Incidentally, Bethlehem means "House of Bread" - a direct allusion to Jesus as the Bread of Life. David, the great king of the Old Testament era, would now give way to the King of Kings, Jesus the Lord.
In the Gospel, St. Matthew notes that all that was to take place would be to fulfill the words of the prophet Isaiah - which we read in our first reading and is quoted in the Gospel. Isaiah tells us that the child's name shall be Emmanuel - God is with us.  Indeed, God actually condescended to take on our humanity. 
As Christmas approaches quickly, we are invited, in a spiritual way, to go to Bethlehem. Pay close attention to what we see and what we hear and what we feel. It is cold. It is dark. It is poor and it is VERY humble. Yet, in the serenity of that silent night, there is majesty greater than that of King David. It is at long last the completion of what Isaiah had prophesied so many years ago - a savior is born to us. He is like us in all things but sin.
My dear brothers and sisters,
The feast that we are going to celebrate reminds us very powerfully that the God we believe in is a God who became one of us. He made himself Immanuel. He wanted to show us that He was not yet tired of us. He took a form that we could see and touch.
How marvellously true is the mystery that we celebrate this week? God takes on a human form so that we might see Him with our own eyes. Let the celebration of Christmas, then, rekindle in us our own deep desire for God: to hear, see and touch Him.
The Lord has made known his salvation.
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God,
Shout to the Lord all the earth, ring out your joy (Ps 97). Amen

Fr. Joseph Pham Quoc Van, O.P.