Isaiah 7: 10-14, Rom 1: 1-7, Mt 1: 18-24
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
We read almost every day about the problems in the Middle East. This is nothing new. Seven hundred thirty years before Christ there were problems too. The dominant power in the Middle East at that time was Assyria, an especially cruel and powerful nation whose capital was located in modern day Iraq, about 250 miles north of Bagdad. The king in Jerusalem at the time, King Ahaz felt threatened, not so much by Assyria, but by two smaller nations that were preparing to attack him. He decided to call on Assyria for help. The prophet Isaiah, the author of our first reading, warned: “Don’t do it. It will only cause more problems.” He promised: “God would keep the king and Jerusalem safe.” Ahaz did not have enough faith that God would do so. Isaiah told the king “Ask for a sign, ask for some proof.” But Ahaz, acting very pious, said he would not attempt God by asking for a sign. Isaiah offered one anyway. The sign Isaiah offered was most probably that God would give him a son who would succeed him.
At this time he had no offspring for the king had already offered his only son in human sacrifice to Moloch, the pagan god of the Canaanites. God’s gift of another son would definitely be a sign that God would not let his lineage die out. Ahaz’ son would be called by the symbolic name Emmanuel for he would be a sign that God was with his people. It is a good possibility that the son Ahaz eventually has was Hezekiah who turned out to be a good leader and a king who was faithful to God. But. Matthew saw in this promise of Isaiah a greater depth of meaning. He saw that Jesus fulfilled this promise perfectly by being born of a virgin and by being a sign to us that God is with us.
Reflection: Christmas Expectations
As Christmas approaches, people’s hopes sour.
However, the substance of these hopes
Is often dictated by commercial interests.
Little wonder, then, that when
The sun goes down on Christmas Day,
Many feel disappointed.
Those who pin their hopes on what the merchants promise
Will always be disappointed,
Not because they promise too little,
but too much-of the wrong thing.
What our hearts long for is a taste of what
the angels announced to the shepherds:
‘Behold, I bring news of a great joy;
Today a savior has been born for you.’
This joy is the real hope of Christmas.
Let us open our hearts to receive it.
Peace and all good!
Fr. Valery Burusu