Archdiocese News - THE SUNDAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS [English/Arabic]

[Arabic Version]

Emmanuel-God with us
(St. Matthew 1:1-25)

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (which means, God with us).

Not “Emmanuish”, man with us; but “Emmanuel”, God with us! The gospel of St. Matthew begins with the presence of God among men- Emmanuel- and concludes with the promise of His continued presence, “And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (St. Matt. 28:20).

How tragically true it is that Christians often think of Jesus in the past tense, the Christ who was, or in the future tense, the Christ who will be. How seldom we think of Him in the present tense, God with us. Yet how much we need this promise in days of confusion, darkness, and struggle. In the Gospel of John we are told: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. This is only another way of saying: “Emmanuel, God with us”. Not in some distant heaven, not on some faraway planet, but here among us, sharing our sorrows, helping us bear our heaviest burdens, touched with the feeling of our infirmities, cleansing us of our sins, showing us the kind of life that has eternal value.

It was said of Pope Pius XII that although he used his telephone constantly, it was a one-way line: “No one can dial the Pope”. Many people would say that this is one of their principal problems with God. Frequently they do not seem to be able to “dial Him”, to find Him, to communicate with Him, to reach Him. So frequently God seems far away, impersonal, unreal. But all this was changed at Christmas when God stooped down to touch earth and establish a two-way line between man and God so that now through Jesus we may “dial” God directly, find Him, communicate with Him, and reach Him through prayer, Holy Communion, the Bible, and the Church.

Christmas has a special message of comfort for the lonely. It is the message of Emmanuel-God’s presence with us, whoever we are, wherever we are, if we will but turn to Him with as much as a prayerful sight!

As Christians we are called upon to share the joy of God’s presence with others. For example, this Christmas look for some lonely person for whom this is the loneliest time of the year. Pay him a short ten of fifteen-minute visit, or even a telephone call. Show him that you care as Christ cares. You will come away with the joy of God in your heart. This will be His reward to you for having brought Emmanuel to fill the void of an empty heart.

The promise of God’s presence helps the Christian to live a ‘we’ life: God and I.
St. Paul, for example, lived a ‘we’ life. He testified, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. No Christian ever achieves his full potential or uses his full strength unless he appropriates the power of God, unless he lives a “we” life with Christ.

“How can you face life so victoriously?” someone asked a Christian.
“Through prayer”, he replied.
“What do you mean by prayer?”
The Christian replied: “Long ago I was so troubled about a lot of things that I almost got sick over it. I prayed to the Lord and He finally answered me. This is what he said: “Listen, Son, there is nothing you and I cannot handle together!” Emmanuel-God with us!

A famous surgeon would bow his head and pray before each operation he performed. An astonished reporter who once witnessed this asked him: “Do you always pray before an operation?”
The surgeon answered with a smile: “Always. Because I never know what trouble I am going to run into, and when I will have to turn the scalpel over to the Great Physician and bid Him carry on. Many times in my surgery, when I was at the end of my human ability, God has taken over where I left off” Emmanuel-God with us!

God’s great gift to us at Christmas was neither a code of ethics nor a philosophy, but Himself! Christianity is far more than a series of commandments, or anything else, it is a presence: Emmanuel-God with us! With us in trouble, to see us through. With us in sorrow, to brush away the tears. With us when we fall, to raise us up. With us in weakness, to make us strong. With us in death, to make us confident. Yes, and with us forever beyond death, in a place where “eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it ever entered into the heart of man what things God has prepared for those who love Him”.

“Behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people...Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel (which means God with us)”.                   
                                                                                          A m e n

The articles from our Late Metropolitan Paul.

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