Friday, November 30, 2012

Notes on the Gospel Matthew – Matthew 1:21-22

When the angel spoke to St. Joseph in a dream and told him that he would have the responsibility of naming Mary's Son, he actually provided two different names for this miraculous Child: Jesus and Emmanuel. 

In a previous post, we discussed the implications of the name “Jesus,” which means “God saves.” This name indicates what Jesus came to do, namely, to “save His people from their sins.” 

The name “Emmanuel,” on the other hand, means “God is with us.” This name points to Who Jesus is. He is literally God with us...God and Man...divine and human. With us as He walked on earth. With us as He shared in our human condition. With us as He worked, ate, drank, slept, and visited with His friends. With us as He taught and healed and forgave. With us as He suffered and died. With us as He rose again. With us even as He ascended into Heaven. With us still in a most profound way in the Eucharist. That's Who Jesus is...God with us. 

When the Catechism of the Catholic Church discusses the Blessed Trinity, it distinguishes between oikonomia or economy and theologia or theology (#236). The former refers to “all the works by which God reveals Himself and communicates His life,” while the latter indicates “the mystery of God's inmost life in the Blessed Trinity.” Oikonomia is what God does; theologia is Who He is. 

We might say, then, that the two names given to Jesus in Matthew 1:21-22 describe His oikonomia (Jesus – God saves) and His theologia (Emmanuel – God is with us). 

Even though we call Jesus by His oikonomia name, continually remembering that He has saved us and continues to save us through His great love, we must also keep in mind the depth of His theologia name, Emmanuel, God with us, now and forever.

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