by Paul Campbell SJ USA 03.12.2023
As you probably know, in both the “Old” (Hebrew) and “New” (Christian) Testaments, words ending with “el” suggest “of God.” Hence, Michael signifies “Who is like God?” Gabriel indicates that “God is my strength,” and, more generically, Angel suggests “Messenger of God.”
Emmanuel, of course, means “God with us.” Since my childhood, I have sung the Advent hymn, “O come, O come Emmanuel…” without realizing the truly extraordinary request I was making. I have been asking, and continue to ask, the Triune God to come and share our humanity with all of its messiness, madness and corruption. No big deal!
As a Jesuit, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius are at the heart of my worldview. At the beginning of the Second Week, we are given a “Contemplation on the Incarnation.” As with the other exercises of this week, we are asked to pray for an intimate knowledge of Jesus, to love him deeply and follow him more closely.
The “Contemplation on the Incarnation” suggests that we imagine the Trinity looking upon humanity and seeing what a terrible state we are in. Ignatius then invites us to hear the Trinity decide that ‘the Second Person shall become man to save the human race, and so, the fullness of times being come, they sent the Angel St. Gabriel to Our Lady.”
In this Advent Season, I invite you to join with me in contemplating the Incarnation. The Trinity continues to look upon us, seeing the tragedy unfolding in Israel and Palestine, the appalling condition of refugees and the dire poverty of too many millions of our sisters and brothers.
Yet, God is ever with us, bringing Christ to birth, so that we may be saved from ourselves.