“O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.”
Here we find ourselves at the seventh and final O Antiphon of the Advent Season. Today’s O Antiphon emphasizes Jesus as Emmanuel, “God with Us.” It can be easy to take for granted the fact that we as Christians live in an age in which we can refer to God as being with us. For centuries human beings lived in separation from Him, before Christ was born, died, and rose. Once those events came to pass, we no longer needed a law to be united to God. He came among us, having taken on our human nature, and through his death and Resurrection, paid the infinite penalty we had justly earned and were incapable of paying on our own. What a privilege it is to know that right now God is with us in the way he is bringing to fulfillment the rebirth he initiated in us through baptism. He is with us in the closest way possible, in the sense that he has transformed us into individuals who are nonetheless extensions of Himself, a transformation that will reach its fulfillment at the end of time, assuming we persevere in faith. Once again we will enjoy perfect union with God, except it will be a higher kind of union with Him than Adam and Eve enjoyed before the first sin. We will have been fully incorporated into Christ’s body, which will enable us to share in both His human and divine natures. At the end of time, we will be like Him, full actualizations of what He made each of us to be – a reality in which our every longing will be fully engaged. It will be an eternal state of perfect happiness. As you open your Christmas gifts in the coming season, do so happily. But remember the perfect happiness that awaits you through faith in the One who came to be with us as the first gift of Christmas.