Reflect Emmanuel

December 16

Reflect Emmanuel is a series of Advent meditations on Emmanuel, our God with us

December 16, 2013

Sister Janet Eisner, SND, President


Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.
Indeed, the Lord is near.

Philippians 4:4-5

We begin this third week of Advent rejoicing; yesterday was Gaudete Sunday. This season is about joyful expectations; it celebrates the Incarnation—God chose to become human and live in the world. It is the season of Emmanuel, our God with us.

Today’s Gospel reading, taken from Matthew 21:23-27, describes Jesus’ meeting with the chief priests. We may ask, “Why this Gospel, from the account of the Passion, after Palm Sunday, in the middle of Advent?”

This account is preceded immediately by Jesus’ expulsion of the money changers from the Temple. The chief priests are indignant and question him, “By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?” Jesus replies with a question about John the Baptist: Is he of heavenly origin or of human origin? The chief priests decide to avoid answering, and Jesus says, “Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

In this encounter, Jesus expresses again that he is of divine and of human origin. How significant, then, this reading is to Advent, which celebrates God’s choice to become human through Jesus.

This is indeed joyful news. Pope Francis’ recent Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium—the Joy of the Gospel—begins:

The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus … With Christ joy is constantly born anew … I invite all Christians, everywhere, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since ‘no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord.’ The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms.

God meets us just as we are. May we take time this Advent to invite God into our daily lives, to listen attentively to the way God speaks to us, and to notice with heightened awareness the needs of others. May we rejoice, for God truly is with us.