The last of the “O” antiphons offers us an opportunity one more time to reflect on the name “Emmanuel.” God with us. Our celebration of the birth of Jesus is the final part of God’s plan to reconcile with his created universe. It was an elaborate plan that took thousands of years to complete. However, the motive for that plan is found in the name Emmanuel. God desires to once again live with God’s people.
The Gospel focuses us on the name of the forerunner of Jesus – John – which would have been Yohanan in Hebrew. We might recall another Yohanan or Jonathan, the son of Saul and friend of David. The Hebrew meaning of this name is “God has shown grace.” The grace that God has shown us through this important figure is the grace of reconciliation which circles us back around to the motive of God’s plan – to reconcile all creation with the Creator.
The prophet Malachi speaks of the mission of this man: “To turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. . .” Reconciliation and forgiveness are really the cornerstones of the plan that God set in motion after Adam sinned in the garden.
For the past three and a half weeks we have been anticipating the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Our time of preparation will soon be over. We have reached the last full day of Advent. Tomorrow will bring us the promised fruit of our anticipation and preparation.
We praise the Lord who gives us himself, preparing the way for our salvation. We entrust ourselves to him so as to be ready to fully celebrate the feast of Emmanuel, God with us.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator