IV Advent

(written 12/20/2019)

annunciation-merode

Mary will bear a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.

Yeshua. God saves. That’s what the Hebrew means. Jesus. God saves. [Spanish]

That’s one of the angel’s main points to communicate to St. Joseph. The child has been conceived in ineffable holiness by God. The human child of your beloved Mary—the child is divine. And the divine child comes to save. You can’t name Him Xerxes or Thor or Qin Shi Huang—you can’t name Him anything but Jesus, because His coming to the earth means: God saves. God comes to be with His people, in the flesh—in order to save His people.

Salvation. From what?  From slavery to ourselves, our limitations, our unshakable self-destructiveness. Salvation from interior darkness, ignorance, malice. Salvation from our incurable smallness. Salvation from pointlessness.

People say that mankind has lost the sense of sin. But getting our sense of sin back is easy. Let’s imagine a conversation between a father and his four-year-old son.

‘Listen, son, daddy has to make money.’ ‘Why?’ ‘We need money so that you can go to college.’ ‘Why?’ ‘You need to go to college so that you can get a good job.’ ‘Why?’ ‘You need a good job so that you can drive a nice car.’ ‘Why?’ ‘You need a nice car to help you attract the right wife.’ ‘Why?’ ‘You need a good-looking wife so that your friends will be impressed.’ ‘Why?’ ‘You need to impress your friends so you get plenty of respect.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Listen, boy! I don’t know!’

‘Why don’t you know?’

The four-year-old will make us realize that we have a problem. Why? Why? Why? What’s my point? Why do I do what I do? What’s my goal—my fundamental goal?

If the answer doesn’t involve God, then the Whys will run me ragged eventually. Almighty God, the glory of God, the One Who molded me out of human clay in my mother’s womb, the One Who made me to be something so beautiful that only He can truly conceive it. If I don’t have an answer to all the Whys–an answer that has to do with eternity, fulfillment, consummation, God—if I don’t have that kind of answer, then the Whys keep coming at me, and all I can do is run away, as if honest questions about the meaning of life were incoming machine-gun fire. Without God, I will get desperate. I will do destructive, unworthy things.

I need God to save me from the bottomless pit of a fundamentally meaningless life.

Yeshua. God saves. Why? Why am I? Why do I exist? Does this question have an answer?

Yeshua, it does. And the answer comes from Jesus: I exist because of infinite love. I exist because the mind that made the heavens and the earth has a plan to make something glorious out of me—something utterly, completely, and totally worthwhile.

st-josephThe angel came to Joseph, to give Jesus His name, the Hebrew for God saves. And the angel came to Mary, too, of course. What kind of people were they, Mary and Joseph?

They belonged to an ancient nation, who could understand what ‘Yeshua’ meant. Not just because they knew Hebrew. But also because the name fulfilled perfectly what Moses heard at the burning bush, when Yahweh had given His name of ineffable absolute being.

The eyes of the faithful Israelites’ souls stared up toward God. Mary and Joseph lived to do God’s will. They waited for the fulfillment of His Plan. He liberated the people from slavery in Egypt, and He promised them a good, a fruitful life. So they waited for Him to fulfill what He had spoken to their forefathers.

In other words, in the ancient world, Israel was the people of divine faith. The people who knew that God stands closer to us than our own noses.

Why? Why? Why? Why anything? Israel’s answer: Because God wills.

This nation produced Joseph and Mary. The angel came to them, to this people, the people who had learned, over 42 unbroken generations, to wait for God to reveal His will. And the angel declared: God wills TO SAVE.

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