A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘Emmanuel

When I was a little girl, I didn’t like my first name because people mispronounced it so often. (Now that I know the other names my parents considered, I think they made the right choice.) So when we chose our son’s first name, pronounceability was a factor, right up there with meaning.

We also give a lot of thought to our pets’ names. That’s how we’ve ended up with Syd and Bart the zebra finches (short for Sydney and Hobart, given their Australian origins) and Molly the English bulldog. We’ve also had a cat named Jekyll (Hyde in his wild moments) and a miniature pinscher named Caesar (the MinPin being the king of toy breeds).

A name says so much about a person—or a pet, for that matter.

Names can give us an idea of parents’ hopes for their children as well as the family’s ancestry. And so it is with the name of Jesus. From his name we know that God sent his son to be with us and to save us from our sins. The angel who appeared to Joseph in a dream, telling him that the child Mary carried was of the Holy Spirit, spoke of Jesus’ name: “(S)he will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21)*.

The Bible also tells us that this fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy, “’Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel’ (which means, God with us)” (Matthew 1:23).

As the apostle Paul reminds us in Philippians 2:9-11, we should honour and praise Jesus’ name:

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I pray that we would honour Jesus’ name, that it would not pass our lips as just another word, and that we would teach our children to do the same.

(*Quotes from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

Christmas tree angel

The angel on our Christmas tree

As I write this, I’ve just cleared what seemed like a mountain of snow in my driveway. Twice. But I love a white Christmas, so the snow removal was just part of my preparations for the big day.

I’m looking forward to spending Christmas Day with my family (including all our pets), wishing family “Merry Christmas!” on the phone, and having dinner with my parents. And of course, enjoying Christmas dinner and exchanging gifts.

Before all that, I’m looking forward to attending Mass tonight, on Christmas Eve. And remembering the point of all the festivities: the celebration of Jesus’ birth as God-with-us, Emmanuel.

On one of my Christmas albums is a song by Taylor Swift, “Christmas Must Be Something More,” that really captures this idea in its chorus:

You’d see that today holds something special

Something holy, not superficial

So here’s to the birthday boy who saved our lives

The first time I heard this song in December 2010, it really struck a chord with me. I’d been enjoying the Christmas hustle and bustle less and less and wanted this holiday to be about much more than the trappings.

Over the past few weeks, while writing this blog and thinking a lot about the season, I’ve tried to experience Advent rather than rush through it to get to Christmas. I’ve enjoyed lighting the candles on the Advent ring and saying the prayers each Sunday at dinner; attending Advent services; and taking the wrapping, decorating and other tasks at a much slower pace. And now the anticipation is nearly over—tomorrow is Christmas!

For those who are travelling, I pray that you will be safe. For those who are expecting guests, I pray that you will be welcoming hosts. And for all of us, I pray that we will keep the reason for the season first in our hearts.

To quote “This is Christmas” by Luther Vandross, “Hallelujah! This is Christmas!”

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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