The weeks of the holy season of Advent are melting down to days; the days to hours. And as the intensity of Advent spirituality continues to increase, two concepts emerge as essential to our Advent prayer and contemplation. One of them is the title of Emmanuel applied to the Christ Child, the Word made Flesh, the divine Baby in the manger. Emmanuel in Hebrew means “God is with us.” It was first given to the future savior by the prophet Isaiah. And of all seven of the O antiphons, it is the one which has become a proper name for men and women within the Christian world, and maybe the Jewish world, too, although I am not sure about that.
The second concept so basic to Advent is the idea that a human woman can give birth to a divine son. God was thought of as transcendental, that is, over, above, outside, and apart from the human race and human condition. It would be equivalent to saying that a king has become one of his subjects, a shepherd one of his sheep, a sculptor one of his statues. Impossible! And yet, there it is in Isaiah, chapter 7, verse 14: “The virgin shall be with child and bear a son and shall name him Emmanuel.” It is impossible for virgins to conceive and bear children. And then, it is even more impossible for a human woman to become the mother of a divine Son, and for her child to be “God with us.” Yet these impossibilities are part of divine Revelation, part of our holy faith. And, as the archangel told Our Lady at the time of the Annunciation, “Nothing is impossible for God.”
So, during this week, let us reflect upon the facts that the Baby in the manger has no human father, but does have a Divine Father. He has a human mother and his Divine Father, and he shares the nature of both, so is both human and divine, God and man. God with us. Emmanuel. And we say to his mother: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
In the Liturgy of the Hours for today, we hear Saint Bernard of Clairvaux speaking to Our Lady as if he were present at the moment of the Annunciation. He says to her, “Mary, humble and modest as you are, this is no time for humility and modesty. The archangel has asked something of you which disturbs you since it seems so lacking in humility and modesty. And you might be inclined to say NO, you are not worthy, you are not adequate to be the Mother of God. But, Mary, DON’T SAY THAT! This is no time for humility, for modesty. The salvation of all of us depends upon your answer. Speak, Mary. Be bold, be trusting that God knows what he is doing when he asks this of you. And Mary speaks: she says, “Be it done to me according to your word.” And the word was made flesh and dwelt among us, first in the virginal womb of Mary. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This Message was composed some years ago.