O Lord of Israel-Gospel-12/18

The second O-antiphon is a cry to the Lord of Israel, that He stretch out His hand to save us.  In this antiphon we are reminded of the crucial act of salvation prior to Jesus, the giving of the Law, God's own best thought, to Moses on Mount Sinai.  Moses himself, the antiphon says, received his calling at the burning bush, a calling which led him to meet Yahweh at Mount Sinai and which came to completion with his bringing the Israelites to the edge of Israel.  Now we call on this Lord to send again the Chosen One who first came to Bethlehem, now comes to us in daily forms of grace and Communion, and will come again to take His beloved with Him forever.  The Lord has given us a new Moses to follow; He has given us His Son, who reveals much better than did Moses the mind of God for our good, and who leads us, as members of His body, to the Promised Land which is life everlasting.  Come, again, O Lord, to continue our journey of salvation to live with You.

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Today's Gospel tells us of an annunciation of Divinity to Joseph.  Joseph well represents us in the sense that he does not plan, but simply obeys, with absolute trust that what is being revealed to him is assured happiness.  The angel of God (a title often used in the Old Testament for God Himself) assures Joseph that God is the cause of Mary's pregnancy, that this new child should be Joseph's son and should be called Jesus.  Matthew himself reminds us, through one of his countless appeals to Old Testament terminology, that we can also call this child Immanuel.  Thus, not only is the reality of Jesus assured (it is the divine will that brings him to life), but we can know him, before seeing and hearing him, to be our Savior (Jesus in Hebrew means "God saves through the one who bears this name") and God with us (Imm=with; anu = us; el = God; thus, with us is God).  In this way of telling his story, Matthew has assured his readers of three essential facts: 1. that Jesus is not of human origin alone, but is divine and loving, i.e. saving, as is Yahweh; 2. that we know by names how we should understand Jesus; 3. that the knowledge about Jesus that we receive here is certain, for it is God who is witness here.  May we react as did Joseph, obedient to the incomprehesible love of God for us.

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