Friday, December 23, 2011

O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver,
the Expected of nations and their Savior:
Come, and save us, O Lord our God!

Emmanuel or Imanu'el (Hebrew עִמָּנוּאֵל "God [is] with us" consists of two Hebrew words: אֵל (’El, meaning 'God') and עִמָּנוּ (ʻImmānū, meaning 'with us').

The Morning Office for this day prays at sunrise: "Behold, all things spoken by the angel of the Virgin Mary are now fulfilled." The Church's liturgy eagerly anticipates the celebration of the Holy One's coming, and concludes by addressing its plea to the Messiah in person: Emmanuel, God with us. Jesus the Christ is one of us: true God and true man. He identifies with all that a human being is: all joys, pleasures and human happiness, as well as all weaknesses, suffering, pain, doubt, insecurity, depression. Even all these centuries later, this reality is still very hard for most Christians to swallow. Somehow there lingers the slight doubt in many of our minds that Jesus is really like us. We nurture that doubt to our own detriment, allowing a distorted image of God with us to distort our vision. 

The Holy One is God who reigns in our hearts, in the world, in nature, in the events of history ("our King"). He is the One who sets the guidelines for wise and holy living together ("our Lawgiver"). He is the One for whom the human heart, from the beginning until now, longs and desires. He is Yehoshua, Jesus, the One who saves.  The main verse of the chant "O come, O come, Emmanuel" is so descriptive in its plaintive reaching out for God to be with us always as we stand amidst the limitations, indadequacy, and pain of human life as we know it. "O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come, O Israel!" 

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