Dec 23 – O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.

Our final O Antiphon uses the greatest of all the Messianic titles – Emmanuel. Each of the titles of the messiah also correspond to a prophecy given by Isaiah. Today the greatest of the prophecies is foretold:

  • Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. — Isaiah 7:14

This title is the most appropriate, most complete, most comprehensive, and yes, the most different as well.
You see, the whole story of the Incarnation is contained in this wonderful title of Our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ — God with us. Our God redeems us, sanctifies us, and consecrates all people and all time by this different way — by coming to earth and making all things new. By redeeming us by becoming one of us. Only a God that loves you far beyond your ability to comprehend it would enter His own creation as a creature Himself, in the most unassuming way. That is why Emmanuel is the greatest title of the Messiah.

This is how the title was first written in Hebrew by the prophet Isaiah:

Emman el

It is actually two words, as you can see from the split between the characters – Emmanu (with us) and El (God). El is the most ancient and simplest Hebrew word for God. We see it comprising a portion of names of important figures in Sacred Scripture, for example Ezekiel, Michael, Gabriel & Raphael.And of course, in titles of God himself: El, Elohim, El Shaddai, Elah, Eloah, Elyon.

But even as wonderful as the title is, the name that we receive tomorrow night is greater still. The name that will be given the swaddling baby by his mother and father – the name that was pre-given to Mary even at the announcement of his entry into this world.Praise to you, God with-us: thank you for loving us so much that you became one of us. Thank you for revealing yourself to us more and more through salvation history. Thank you for choosing us, calling us, setting us apart, commissioning us, and for loving us — to be more precise, thank you for loving us, literally, to the death.

PS: In a few moments I will share with you a special gift that Benedictine monks wrapped for you centuries ago . . .

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