Thursday, 8 December 2016


                                                                                                                                                                    THE LORD IS WITH YOU                                                                                                                                                                                                                GOOD COMPANIONS.

Joseph was aware that Mary, the woman to whom he was betrothed, was ‘with child.’ He knew with certainty that this was not of his doing. It took an angel to reassure him no drastic action was needed since the Holy Spirit was responsible for her being in this situation.

 St. Matthew reassures  us  that   Almighty God had everything under control. ‘Now all this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet   Isaiah, “Look, the virgin is with child and will give birth to a son whom they will call Emmanuel, a name which means ‘God is with us,’” (Matt.1.23).

Mary’s child would come to be described – wonders of wonders – as ‘Emmanuel’ which means, ‘God is with us,’ as a good companion, good friend, someone who brings out the best in us and discourages the worst in us. Towards the end of His life Jesus said to His  Apostles, “No-one-one can have greater love
 than to lay down his life for his friends: you are my friends…I call you friends,” (Jn.15.13-15).

How I enjoy it when young children show off to me their ‘best friends!’ The two  hold hands as an expression of ownership of a treasured possession. Their simply being  together  seems to be more important than what they do together.

We now turn to a stable outside Bethlehem. Shepherds and  Magi had  made time simply to see Jesus, to be with Jesus. Baby Emmanuel, Baby ‘God with us,’  made such an impression on the Magi that they paid Him homage. The shepherds, filled with wonder, excitedly told everyone how the angels had persuaded them to go and find Jesus.

The full force of ‘God is with me’  overwhelms me as I reflect on what most surely must be the  most moving words in Sacred Scripture, “The Word became flesh, He lived among us…He came to His own…to those who did accept Him He gave power to become children of God, (Jn1.11).

Jesus sees us as ‘His own,’ in the hope that you and I will see Him as ‘our own.’ He  chooses  us to be His friends, His companions. His hope is that we shall choose Him to be our friend, our companion.

 The liturgical greeting  ‘The  Lord  be with you,’ means that we wish each other to find our Christian identity in having Emmanuel – God with us…always. I am thrilled that God wants to be   with   me – as Jesus – Emmanuel -  to be for me the best of friends, the best of companions. 

If only I were to respond with love to such friendship, such companionship, surely this would divert me  from ungodly living. In so doing  He will then be my Jesus, my Saviour. Such is the loyalty of His love, in  His friendship for me that He will forgive me whenever I have offended Him by my sins. In this sense He will be Jesus, my Saviour, ready to pull me out of whatever shameful mess I may have plunged myself into.

As I put together these thoughts at the very beginning of Advent  I tell myself that to experience ‘Emmanuel’ – God with me - I don’t have to wait until I can gaze into a crib on Christmas Day.  In the Eucharist – in the Tabernacle – He is with me – Emmanuel. I am with Him, God Incarnate.

 We are two good friends – two good companions – together.  In this I can find my better self, my godly self.  What is more, I meet Emmanuel -my God, my saviour, my companion - in each of the Sacraments, in prayer, in the people I meet and in the routine of my daily life.

 As I share in His love for you my Christmas longing is that you should vividly experience Emmanuel, Jesus, the  Son of God be with you as your best friend, your best companion, your loving, lovable Saviour.
Peter Clarke, O.P.

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