Dear brothers and sisters, imagine a sailor lost at sea, without any means, not even a compass. On this immense ocean where there is no sign, no signal but only waters, he would naturally be unable to know where are the north, the south, the east and the west, in short, he would be in a desperate situation.
We can easily guess what a person in such a condition can strongly long for. In effect in any difficult situation, we naturally look for signs, any sign that can revive our hope. We can undoubtedly say a life given, or revival sign is a sign from God, who is the life itself; and the greatest sign of God is he himself made visible in the person of his beloved son Jesus Christ. No sign is greater than the revelation of himself that, God in his unfathomable mercy, has given us.
In the first reading King Ahaz was troubled and frightened because the kings of Israel and Syria decided to wage war against his kingdom. The Lord God sent the prophet Isaiah to him so as to calm him down and invite him to remain firm in his faith. But king Ahaz was unable to fully trust God despite the first intervention of Isaiah. God then asked King Ahaz to ask for a sign, since he seemed to be looking for a tangible confirmation of God’s promise. Ahaz actually has closed his mind and was no more willing to listen to the prophet’s advice. Nevertheless, the unresponsiveness of Ahaz did not prevent God to confirm through the prophet, that his promise would be fulfilled. The young woman will be pregnant and have a son who will be called Immanuel that is with us is God. Immediately, the prophecy means that a wife of Ahaz will give birth to a son who will be different from his father and will be capable of rejecting evil and choosing good; he will be a king who totally trusts God. But beyond the immediate sign, lies a more important one, the advent of the true Immanuel, which is the incarnation of the Son of God.
Indeed, what has been announced several hundred years ago by Isaiah, is fulfilled in a young virgin, Mary of Nazareth. Let us remind that King Ahaz is from the house of David, he is a descendant of King David, and Joseph the spouse of Mary is also from the house of David. Nevertheless, the character of Joseph is different from the one of Ahaz. In effect, Joseph was troubled when he noticed that the woman he was going to marry was pregnant, and Matthew said through the Holy Spirit. Naturally, as a human being, Joseph was certainly doubtful, nothing could allow him to believe that, the pregnancy is the work of the Holy Spirit and we can imagine how disturbed he was. He had the possibility to get rid of Mary in a brutal way, exposing her to shame and stoning. But he chose to be merciful toward her by deciding to break off secretly. Joseph’s trouble and doubt vanished with the vision of an angel of the Lord who enlightened him. What is remarkable is that, he decided to obey God’s will and through the obedience of both Mary and Joseph the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled definitely.
Dear brothers and sisters, the sign of Immanuel is not a historic and old fashioned sign, it is a sign of the past, a historic sign, a sign of the present time and a sign of the future. In other words it is a permanent sign and it will be the same till the time, as Saint Paul said, God will be all in all. It concretely means that, the sign of Immanuel is definitely fulfilled but its full understanding is still ongoing. As it is said in the Eucharistic prayer number 4, the Holy Spirit is the agent of this, slow but sure, accompaniment to the full comprehension of the sign of Immanuel (he sent the Holy Spirit from you Father as the first fruit for those who believe, so that, bringing to perfection his work in the world, he might sanctify creation to the full). We are in the messianic time but as Saint Paul said we know that up to the present time all of creation groans with pain, like the pain of childbirth. …For it was by hope that we were saved…but if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Rm 8: 22-25).
We pray for an advanced comprehension of the sign of Immanuel.