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Sunday Readings for Dec. 19, 2010 (4AdvA)
By Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB
That the Virgin will conceive and bear a son is the great sign to all peoples of God's sending the Savior. So many people today no longer believe in virgin birth at all. This is a very sad situation. For those of us who believe that God's word is given to us in the Holy Scriptures, it is practically impossible not to believe in the Virgin Birth.
The first reading today, from the Prophet Isaiah, is one of the first references to virgin birth. It is true that the Hebrew text can indicate only an unmarried young woman. On the other hand, when the text was translated from Hebrew to Greek, the faith of the believing community was reflected in the choice of a Greek word with clearly indicates a virgin.
This particular passage should help form us as believers. We come to know more profoundly that Holy Scripture is not a scientific handbook that simply plots out how salvation will happen and then it does. Rather the Holy Scripture is a living word from God Himself. Living words continue to grow and to expand in meaning as we meditate them.
The Gospel is also this type of living word of God. We see Joseph responding to an angel who comes to him in a dream but who quotes the Prophet Isaiah--the very passage we have heard. The New Testament is written in Greek and the reference to Isaiah is to the Septuagint version and clearly indicates a virgin who will give birth. There is no doubt that this early Church in its writings accepted the Virgin birth of the Savior.
As we come to the end of Advent we are challenged, each of us, to listen to God's Word, to accept God's word, to understand how this word works in Scripture and in our personal lives. We cannot respond to this challenge without a daily reading of some small portion of Scripture. We need to be faithful to this smallest invitation in our life: Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened. I will give you rest.
We cannot have that rest until we can come to the Lord. We cannot come to the Lord without knowing Him. We come to know the Lord through the Church and through the Scriptures given to us in the Church.
Come, let us adore Him. Come, let us seek Him. As we wait for the Lord, may our hearts be ever alert to what He asks of us.