Corpus Christi Blog

What it means to receive Christ

12-18-2016HomiliesFr. Chad King

On this final preparation for the coming of Christ, each of our readings speak to us about what it really means to receive Christ into us. Let us look at each of our readings and be inspired and convicted to fully receive Christ into us.

In our 1st reading, the Lord, through His prophet Isaiah, wants Ahaz to ask for a sign.  Ahaz was a young king at a difficult part of his reign, the Northern tribes have teamed up with the pagans, the Assyrians, and are threatening the Southern tribes which Ahaz is king of.  With his kingdom about to be destroyed, God wants Ahaz to ask for a sign; He wants Ahaz to have hope that the Lord has control.  Isaiah says that Ahaz can ask for anything- as deep as the netherworld or as high as the sky- there is no bounds, no limit to what he can ask for.  God wanted Ahaz to ask for a miracle.  However, Ahaz had lost faith in the Lord and wanted to try and solve his problems with earthly powers.  Ahaz said he didn't want to ask for a sign because he says he didn't want to tempt the Lord.  Sounds like a humble thing to say, but God wanted to give to Ahaz, God was offering confidence and peace in his time of trouble.  In his pride, Ahaz didn't want to appear weak, as a king he wanted to be self-reliant.

Are you, am I, self-reliant?  Do we rely on ourselves, do we rely on earthly power, are we afraid to be weak and needy before God?  God wants to give a sign, He wants us to have hope and trust in God's providence.  But so often we don’t let God be God, we don’t let God give of Himself because we don’t ask, we don’t ask for what we really want, and so we don’t receive the gift God wants to give us.  God wanted to reveal his great plan of salvation, he wants to shower down his love, are we asking?   Ahaz wouldn't ask, but God gave anyways- simply because he wanted to give. And what a sign He gave- “a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel”.  We’ve heard that prophecy every Christmas time in word or in song, but let us really think about what it means.  A virgin shall conceive a son.  That is physically impossible, a virgin, humanly speaking, cannot become pregnant without losing her virginity.  Therefore, God is giving the impossible.  God is wanting to break through the human natural ways of doing things and come among us.  God will do the unthinkable, God will come to earth. Creator will become a part of creation.  God will humble himself, allow himself to be conceived into a virgin woman and be born into the world.  God will dwell with his people.  Therefore, it is right to call this child- Emmanuel- God is with us.  God wants to come to us, to become one of us.  God wants to break the rules of what we think God should do, to do what is unthinkable and impossible.  God is willing to take on our humanity, all because he wants to save us and for us to become like Him and take on His divinity.  God wants to give us his divinity, He wants to give us His very life.  But are we wanting it?  Are we wanting to receive and to live in God’s divine life, or are we wanting to stay stuck in our own human ways of doing things and not let God break through?

Our Gospel from Matthew describes the birth of Jesus Christ by declaring this is the fulfillment of our 1st reading prophecy from Isaiah. Remember that the 1st reading was a prophecy about letting God break through our human way of thinking; so let us see how this prophecy is fulfilled.  Joseph was thinking with human emotions and afraid to take Mary into his home.  In Jewish custom, there is a 2 stage marriage process.  A man and woman are legally married when they are betrothed to the other, and so Joseph and Mary were married.  However, their covenantal marriage isn't consummated until the man has prepared and brings his wife into his home.  The wedding ceremony then takes place over the course of an entire week and at the end the man takes his wife into their home and they consummate their marriage and begin their life together. After hearing that his wife is with child, Joseph, humanly speaking, is perplexed and confused.  He knows Mary was a virgin when he married her but now she is with child before they consummated their marriage.  Therefore, afraid of scandal for him and for Mary, he decides to divorce her quietly before the public ceremony.  However, the Angel appeared and tells Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary into his home because the child was conceived in Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, and they are to the child 'Jesus' because he will save his people from their sins".  The name 'Jesus' in Aramaic is 'Yeshua'- Yeshua means 'the Lord saves'.  The Angel is telling Joseph that the Lord, the Savior, will be born to them.  In other words, the Angel is asking Joseph if he will act as the father of this child who is the Savior of the world. He is saying to Joseph that there is a bigger purpose, a higher calling for his life, if he will participate in his part of this great plan of salvation.  But there is no turning back, once you say 'Yes' to participate in this plan of salvation, once you say yes and receive God into your home; as every parent knows, there is no going back and living for yourself.  And so in essence the Angel asks Joseph- Are you all in? Will you give yourself entirely to this purpose and plan of God to bring salvation for all his people?  Are we willing to let God be God and break through our preconceived notions of who we think God should be and what He should do.  Are we willing to let God come into us, for us to receive Him?  However, to let Christ into our homes, into our hearts, means that we allow His divine life to penetrate and to take over our human life.

This means, like St. Paul in our 2nd reading, that we become a slave of Christ Jesus.  That we let Him be Lord of our life, that we let Him save us.  It means that we are ‘all in’ in living our lives for His purpose and plan, and not just asking God to bless our own lives how we want him to.  It means willing to be set apart for the gospel of God, the good news of our salvation in Christ.  To receive the Lord Jesus Christ into our lives means that we let God make us holy and set apart for others.  It means that we are to become an apostle- to be set apart for participating in and sent to communicate God’s great plan of salvation.  Are you, am I, ready to fully receive Christ into our hearts and lives?  Let us pray that the Lord will make us ready!