Angelic moments

josephangel“…Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:18) And of course, we know the rest of the story… the angel comes and tells Joseph what is expected of him – to take Mary and the child into his home – to be husband and father. “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him” (Matthew 1:24). Great! Problem solved and now we can turn the page to Matthew 2 because in that chapter Jesus is born, the magi visit and we are all set for Christmas. Continue reading

Advertisements

Do angels sing?

hark-the-herald-angels-singStores, offices, and all kinds of places are filled with the sound of familiar and heartening Christmas carols. Some local radio stations are all Christmas music all the time with classic and modern renditions of the secular and religious carols and songs – sometimes as recorded by singing chipmunks.  It becomes part of the ambiance of our Advent season; part of what readies us for the celebration of Christmas.  Continue reading

Emmanuel” God’s plan

TheAnnunciationGod’s Plan. Joseph’s plans are interrupted in vv.20–23 by the appearance of a messenger from God in a dream — a device familiar from the Old Testament account of the birth of Samson (Judges 13). The first words uttered are “do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.” The angel gives an explanation for Mary’s pregnancy, announcing the divine plan is already in motion. The angel also informs Joseph of his part in the divine plan: “you are to name him Jesus.” As explained above, this simple directive makes clear to Joseph that he is to claim Jesus as his own. As the legal son of Joseph, Jesus will be a “Son of David” (v. 20). Continue reading

Emmanuel: my son

TheAnnunciationJoseph and Jesus. Matthew’s gospel does not describe the birth of Jesus, but explains his origin (the virgin conception) and his name in relation to a specific Old Testament prophecy. The passage concentrates entirely on the experiences of Joseph rather than those of Mary. Even the miraculous conception of Jesus is related only as its discovery affected Joseph. This remarkable concentration, compared with the complete silence on Joseph elsewhere, indicates Matthew’s concern to establish Jesus’ legal lineage through Joseph, i.e. to explain how the preceding genealogy applies to Jesus the son of Mary. Continue reading

Emmanuel: more context

TheAnnunciation22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.” (Matthew 1:22-23)

A key element of the biblical context is Matthew’s use of Isaiah 7:14 in v.23 of the gospel. In the Christian understanding, we are called to see the prophesy given centuries before to Isaiah now come to messianic fulfillment in Jesus. The first reading for this Advent Sunday, Isaiah 7:10-14, contains the kernel of the Matthean reference: The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying: Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God (Is 7:10) Continue reading

Emmanuel: context

TheAnnunciationMatthew 1:18-24. 18 Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. 19 Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,  yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. 20 Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. 21 She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,  because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.” 24 When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. 25 He had no relations with her until she bore a son,  and he named him Jesus. Continue reading

How Can This Be?

TheAnnunciationIn response to this angelic announcement, Mary asks a question reminiscent of Zechariah’s query, “How can this be?” She had not had sexual relations with a man. Ultimately, the purpose of Mary’s question (v.34)—which leads to Gabriel’s answer (v.35) and the giving of a sign (v.36) and word of reassurance (v.37)—is to emphasize that all of this is God’s doing. Continue reading

Favored and Troubled

TheAnnunciationConfluence. Luke’s narrative style is on display as he deftly moves from the “annunciation” concerning John the Baptist to the one concerning the salvation of all humanity. There is a confluence of temporal and chronological markers, and the reappearance of Gabriel. The “sixth month” recalls v.24, and seems to imply that Elizabeth has only now come out of seclusion. This prepares for the sharing of the news of her pregnancy in v.36 and her subsequent welcome of Mary (vv.39–45). Yet geographically and socio-religiously we move away from the center (Jerusalem and the Temple) to the margins of the nations (Nazareth in Galilee). Gabriel, God’s messenger, is the connector, pointing to the God’s Word active in the world. Continue reading

Annunciations

TheAnnunciationSimilar, yet… In many respects our gospel (Luke 1:26-38) is similar to the annunciation of the birth of John. The angel Gabriel appears to announce the birth of the child, and the annunciation follows the pattern of birth annunciations in the OT: The angel says, “Do not be afraid,” calls the recipient of the vision by name, assures him or her of God’s favor, announces the birth of the child, discloses the name of the child to be born, and reveals the future role of the child in language drawn from the Scriptures. After their respective announcements, Zechariah and Mary each ask a question, a sign is given, and the scene closes with a departure. The similarity of structure and content between the two scenes invites the reader to consider the differences between them all the more closely. For example, the first announcement came as an answer to fervent prayer; the second was completely unanticipated. John would be born to parents past the age of child bearing, but the miracle of Jesus’ birth would be even greater. Jesus would be born to a virgin. The announcement of Jesus’ future role also shows that at every point Jesus would be even greater than his forerunner. Watch how these nuances are developed in the course of the details of this scene. Note this narrative comparison also punctuates the beginning of Mark’s gospel which has no infancy narrative: John the Baptist is not the Christ, not Elijah, not the prophet to come, and not worthy to loosen the strap of the sandal of the one who is to come. Continue reading

God Is With Us: more context

English: Antiphon of Advent Français : Antienn...

 

Matthew 1:18-24. 18 Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. 19 Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,  yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. 20 Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. 21 She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,  because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.” 24 When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. 25 He had no relations with her until she bore a son,  and he named him Jesus.

 

An Old Testament Context. A key element of the biblical context is Matthew’s use of Isaiah 7:14 in v.23 of the gospel. In the Christian understanding we are called to see the prophesy given centuries before to Isaiah now come to messianic fulfillment in Jesus. The first reading for this Advent Sunday, Isaiah 7:10-14, contains the kernel of the Matthean reference: The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying: Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God (Is 7:10) Continue reading