Posts Tagged ‘Romans 1:1-7’

Don’t Fear: God is with us.

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

On this 4th Sunday of advent, the readings give us an excellent understanding of three subjects: the announcement of Christ’s coming by the prophet Isaiah, how Mary conceived and gave birth to the son of God, and how each of us is called to live while on earth.

In the first reading (Isaiah 7:10-14), the prophet Isaiah is trying to persuade King Ahaz to keep his faith and to trust God. Ahaz is distressed because he’s being threatened by the Assyrians and is trying to figure out the best course of action. As you and I are always including God into every major decision and every aspect of our lives, Isaiah suggests that he ask God for a sign, but Ahaz, says, “I will not ask! I will not tempt the Lord!”

Isaiah lets Ahaz know that the Lord will give a very special sign: “the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.” The word Emmanuel, means God is with us. When you and I are stressed or distressed as Ahaz was, it’s comforting to know that God is with us (Emmanuel.) Just ask, seek and knock.

Paul’s letter to the Romans (Romans 1:1-7) is an invitation for the Romans to “belong to Jesus Christ.” Jesus came to earth not only for the Jews, but for the Romans and all of the gentiles. In the letter, he reminds the Romans that the Good News of Jesus Christ was “promised previously through his prophets in the holy Scriptures.” He’s telling them that this is the God who was promised to us by the prophet Isaiah. See, God does what he says that he’s going to do. We just learned of that announcement made by Isaiah.

It wasn’t until Christ’s resurrection, however that the early Christians realized what the prophets’ promises meant and that Jesus was God’s son. Paul is preaching the Gospel about the descendent of David who was “established as Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Paul closes out today’s reading by inviting the Romans to “belong to Jesus Christ” and with the challenging reminder that each of us is “called to be holy.” Not just the ordained, but lay people too! You and I belong to Jesus Christ and we too are called to be holy and to live holy lives.

Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 1:18-24) gives us the explanation of exactly how Jesus’ birth came about. We learn that Mary “was found with child through the Holy Spirit” and that “Joseph her husband was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame.” This is key because according the laws in place at that time, Joseph could have had Mary stoned to death.”

Can you imagine how Joseph felt when he found out that his new bride was pregnant? They weren’t even living together yet. Thankfully, Joseph received a special visit from an angel who 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. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

Matthew shows the continuity from Isaiah to the present times by including Isaiah’s words,

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”

God does what he says he’s going to do. While on earth, Jesus gave us the commandment to love one and other. Love everyone! It’s especially important that we love the people who are the most difficult to love. They are probably the most difficult to love because they are the ones who are in the most need of your love. As the song goes, they will know that we are Christians by our love.

As we prepare ourselves to return to Jesus or for his return to earth, let’s be walking, talking examples of Christ on earth by truly loving everyone as Jesus loves us. This kind of love is contagious. Let is spread.

We now understand “A virgin shall conceive” to mean that Mary conceived without having had a sexual relationship with a man. Emmanuel is now understood to mean that God will become incarnate. God has come to earth in human form in the body of Jesus. This message is very important to the Jewish audience because it shows that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to the Israelites. A savior will be born and he will be a descendant of the house of David.It’s critical that Joseph welcomes Mary into his home and names him Jesus because this fulfills the scripture as Jesus being from the house of David. It is Joseph’s family who are of the house of David. The name Jesus means “God Saves.” Jesus is God and came to earth to show us how to love and to save us from sin.

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