SCRIPTURE NOTEBOOK by Doris Hayes Isaiah 7:10-14 Romans 1:1-7 Matthew 1:18-25 TODAY, impatient for the celebration of his birthday at Christmas, the Church in her liturgy contemplates all that his presence among us means for us and for all nations. "You are one of those nations, and by his call belong to Jesus Christ," St Paul writes to the Romans.
That reminds us of the command of the Risen Christ to his disciples to go and teach all nations, ending with the words, "and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age". (Mt 28:20). That the Evangelist ends his gospel with the thought that dominates his first chapter (that of Jesus who is Emmanuel "which means God with us") tells us that this is his theme throughout.
That Jesus is at once Son of God and Son of David is proclaimed by Paul. Also it is central to Matthew's Gospel.
It is not surprising that to the contemporaries of Jesus, suffering under foreign domination and remembering the victories of David, Son of David should have political connotations.
It certainly had, but not in terms of a narrow nationalism. The future son promised to David by the prophet Nathan would be God's son: "1 will be his father and he shall be my
son." (2 Samuel 7:14) "My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him for ever," God promised through the psalmist (Psalm 89) and Isaiah proclaimed that he would be Emmanuel, "God-is-with-us" and that he would be called "Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). His reign would be universal and everlasting.
It is extraordinary how many threads running through the Old Testament are drawn together and woven into the Gospel narrative.
Implicit in today's reading from Matthew is another favourite theme of his, that Jesus is the new Moses. "You must name him Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins." That recalls Moses, through whom God saved the people and then brought them into relationship with himself, the covenants.
Joseph, "the just man", is the model of the man who was faithful to that covenant relationship.
We invest the terms "Son of God" and "Holy Spirit" with all the meaning they have in the light of our Trinitarian faith, surpassing the significance they had for the original writers.
We may also find a fuller meaning in the virginity of Mary. God's love for Israel is expressed in terms of intimate human love. He is her loved, her husband. When she fails it is adultery. In her faithful response to God Mary was all that the people of Israel were called to be, and all that the Church of Christ aspires to be, the "spotless bride" of Ephesians 5:27.
Through God's creative spirit Mary gave Christ, God-with-us, to the world.