God’s Gift: His Presence

Matthew 1: 18-25
Jer. 23: 5-8/ Ps 72:1-2,12-13,18-19

‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ — which means, “God with us.” (Matthew 1: 23)

For His gift of Self, praise His Name,
Humbling Himself, He became man
To free us from our sin and shame,
As only Christ our Savior can.

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ — which means, “God with us.” When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave Him the name Jesus. (Matthew 1: 18-25)

Reflection

Few people would be able to answer this question, “What is the greatest event in human history?” It started a little over two thousand years ago in a little town called Nazareth, when the Creator of the universe entered the dimension of space and time, and Himself became one of His created. Nine months later, with the attendance of a host of angels, the prophecy of Israel’s greatest prophet (Isa.7:14) made eight hundred years before, would be fulfilled in Bethlehem, where Jesus Christ, the “God-with-us” would be born. “When the fullness of time had come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption” (Gal.4:4-5).

During this season of gift-giving, few people understand the true significance of giving each other presents. Most of us would point to the gifts that the three wise men from the East presented to the Baby Jesus as the origin of this tradition. True. But a few of us would like to believe that the real gift of the Season was Jesus Himself, God present in human history, Immanuel, “God with us.” Every child of an overseas Filipino worker would agree that the best gift that he/she could receive this Christmas is the presence of a mother or father who has been away from home for more than a year or two. This season of Advent is a time of great anticipation for the arrival of God our Father in the Person of Jesus Christ. His presence among us is the greatest gift that every child of God craves for.

If we are to believe the Bible, today’s Gospel reading is living proof that Jesus Christ is God Who became man, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin named Mary. It is here where the Incarnation of God is vividly illustrated, and where the central fact of our Christian faith puts all doubts to rest. In the first half of his first chapter, St. Matthew presents the human genealogy of Jesus from Abraham to Joseph and Mary. In the second half, he relates His divine origin. Matthew clearly proves that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine. He is God’s gift of Himself to man, even now present with us in His Holy Spirit.

Thank You, Father God for Your presence in our midst, which is our greatest gift during this season. Grant that during this time of Advent we may be fully prepared to welcome You into our hearts and homes by being more compassionate and merciful to others, especially to the victims of natural disasters with whom we need to share Your blessings. Amen.

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