On the 4th Sunday of Advent the Church remembers God’s promises through his prophets, about God coming to earth as a tiny child. The Gospel repeats the message of Isaiah in the first reading, written as a prophecy some 700 years before Jesus’ birth.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel.
St. Matthew repeats this prophecy as he tells of the Messiah’s actual birth to Mary, when the Angel Gabriel appears to Joseph and tells him,
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.”
Christmas is the center of human history. There was a time of human history before Jesus’ birth. There is a time now, after Jesus birth. Christmas marks the point in human history, which ends the time before Jesus, before God came among men as a human, and initiates a new period, the coming of the Kingdom of God to men.
We can never go back to the way things were before. We can ignore the coming of God to earth as man. We can deny it. But it happened, and it changed everything. Before we had to live with our sins. After, Jesus came to free us from our sins and death.
John the Baptist prophesied regarding Jesus coming among men,
John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea*[and] saying, “Repent,* for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
Jesus would often say, “The Kingdom of God is at hand.” When Jesus commissioned the disciples to go out and preach, the told them,
As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
At the birth of Jesus, a King is born. He is our King. His Kingdom is eternal. We are invited into His Kingdom, to live with him forever.
Before Jesus’ birth, there was little hope in the world beyond Jewish prophecy. There was melancholy and fear of death throughout the world. Jesus came and defeated death. With our baptism and sacramental life we have something that no human possessed before the birth of Jesus. With our baptism and sacramental life our sins are forgiven; we can never die, because he came to us, to live like us to become our savior.
St. Paul told the Romans that God had called him,
“… to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised previously through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,
the gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh,
but established as Son of God in power
according to the Spirit of holiness
through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Paul’s message was that everything had changed, and would never be the same, because Christ has been born to us. Prepare to welcome your savior.
Thanks be to God.