A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew:
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel’,
which means, ‘God is with us.’ When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife.
“You are to name him Jesus,” said the angel to the righteous man. Jesus, Y’Shua, the same name as Joshua from the Old Testament. The meaning of “Y’Shua” is “The Lord is Salvation.”
You are not to name the baby Joseph after yourself. You are not to name him Jacob after your father, or Matthan after his father. You are not to name him David after your most celebrated ancestor. You are to name him “The Lord is Salvation.”
The angel ordered the righteous man not to be afraid to take Mary into his home, and raise her child as his own, and to name him “The Lord is Salvation.”
Doing this would fulfill the prophecy: “‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel.”
The meaning of Emmanuel is “G0d with Us.”
You will name the child “The Lord is Salvation” and the people will name him “God with Us.”
The Lord is Salvation, and He is with us.
Salvation belongs to our God, who dwells with us. God will save us by dwelling with us. The Salvation of the Lord became flesh, and dwells with us.
The salvation of the Lord, is God-with-us.
Not God somewhere else.
Not God in Heaven where everything is perfect. Not God in Church where you know what the responsories are and just when to sit and when to kneel. Not God in that monastery you read about that sounds so lovely and quiet. Not God you were sure you once met at the tent revival and hadn’t heard from since. Not God if only you’d gotten everything right. God with us.
God here, where we are.
God where things don’t look the way that they should.
God where the exact answer isn’t at your fingertips.
God when there are no good options.
God when you haven’t felt God’s presence for months. God when the very thought of God makes you nervous. God when you’re certain God must hate you. God when God seems like a lie. And God everywhere else you happen to go. That is where salvation is.
Salvation is here, dwelling among us.
Salvation is here when you’re a righteous man who finds himself in a predicament. That nice girl you were betrothed to in an arranged marriage has gotten pregnant, and you don’t want to put her to shame. You decided to arrange to call off the wedding quietly so they can arrange a marriage with whoever the father is. That seems like the right thing to do. But then the Angel of the Lord inspires you not to be afraid to do something else.
And then you find yourself traveling to Bethlehem at the worst possible time. You hope the baby will wait, but that’s not what babies do. Next thing you know, you’re a father in a stable in a city you don’t live in. And then the angel comes again, warning you to flee from a genocide, and Lord knows when you’ll ever be home.
Salvation is God dwelling with you in that.
Salvation is God dwelling with you, where you are, living where you live, suffering what you suffer, and making it all a Godly thing.
Now comes the salvation, the power and the kingdom.
Salvation is here.
image via Pixabay
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.