Father Michael Barrow

From the parish of St Francis of Assisi

Emmanuel - God With Us: A Reflection On The Sunday Gospel By Fr. Michael Barrow, SJ

Emmanuel - God With Us: A Reflection On The Sunday Gospel                    By Fr. Michael Barrow, SJ
Fr. Michael Barrow, SJ St. Francis of Assisi Church

Gospel [Matthew 1:18-24] Emmanuel – God with us. What is meant by 'with' in this phrase? How is God with us?


"Just stay with him." "But can't I do something to help?" "No, just stay with him – he can't communicate but he knows you are there." I was watching at the bedside of a close friend who had had a stroke and was in a coma. I wanted to be active helping, but I was told that the greatest help would be simply to stay with him. Genuine compassion is not doing something to help a person in trouble or pain. We show our compassion, mainly by being with those in need.

Emmanuel means God-with-us. This is the greatest form of compassion that God our Father can show us – to be with us. Perhaps our best Advent prayer would be "Lord God, be with me." or "Jesus, my Lord, stay with us."

Yet when we pray for our needs and the needs of the world, too often it is what is in our minds rather what is in our hearts. We can be a bit like children drawing up their list for Santa Claus, thinking of concrete things that they might ask for. But I found it quite moving and on a very different level when I asked one little girl, what she really wanted to Christmas and she said, "I want Daddy to come home." She was speaking from the heart. With all the excitement of Christmas, with all the buying of presents and excited anticipation, that little girl knew what was really in her heart. So now if the Lord asks you what you want most for Christmas, will you find yourself saying, "I want you to come home."? Because that is what Emmanuel means.

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