In Advent we sing, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel…” This and the other verses of this song are from the Church’s prayer on the seven days of Advent leading up to Christmas.
But who is Emmanuel? The story begins with two prophecies – and two promises.
In the Old Testament, King Ahaz is surrounded by his enemies. He doesn’t know what to do next. The Prophet Isaiah tries to guide him, but the King doesn’t trust God. Isaiah tells him to ask God for proof. No. He won’t do so.
St Joseph is the father and lord of the Holy Family. Is this because he is more important than the other members of the family? Clearly not. His spouse was the sinless ever-virgin Mary; his “son” Jesus, was “true God and true man.” Nonetheless, in accord with an authentic human anthropology, and as husband, his role is properly to guide, protect, to provide for, and administer the workings of the family.
The husband and father models virtues especially vital to his sons: fortitude, fidelity, temperance, especially purity. To his daughters he teaches the importance of finding - in a man – an unconditional and other-centered love. He expresses the masculinity of faith, hope, and love. He shows how strength is tempered with mercy. Indeed, “The divine Fatherhood, [of God the Father], is the source of human fatherhood.” (Eph 3: 14 - Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2214).
The Easter Vigil which we recently have celebrated begins with fire and the Paschal (Easter) Candle. Christ’s light illumines a dark Church. It naturally attracts the focus of our eyes, our prayer, and our heart.
Jesus is the light of the world. The Gospel of St John offers us a meditation on the Lord’s entrance into the world and man’s response. “ … The Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” (Jn. 3:19-20)
The Church observes September 29th as the Feast Day of the three great Archangels: St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael.
The Sacred Scriptures show – in these three – how God uses the angels to assist mankind. St Michael (Book of Revelation, Letter of Jude, Daniel) is the warrior who takes God’s side in the defeat of Satan and his fallen angels. St. Gabriel (Luke’s Gospel) is the messenger (the word ‘angel’ means messenger), announcing the advent of the Son of God and inviting Mary to consent to God’s plan of salvation. St. Raphael (Book of Tobit) accompanies Tobiah on his journey and brings a healing balm for his father, Tobit, and a spiritual healing as well to Sarah, who is ready to despair.
Feast Days in the Catholic Church are most often celebrated on the death day of the saints. This is the day that marks their share in the death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. From this day the offering of their life is complete, and the soul is directed to heaven. This is the day that they first might be regarded as “saints.”
There are only three feast days in the Church associated with a birth: Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ; June 24 commemorates the birth of St John the Baptist, and September 8 is the occasion for the Church to celebrate the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary. These three persons had an extraordinary holiness from the moment of their birth.