sexta-feira, 13 de maio de 2016


…the Lord himself will give you a sign:
A young woman will conceive
and give birth to a son,
and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14 - NIV

King Ahaz was so fearful of the military might of Syria and Ephraim that he was unable to believe the promise of the eternal God to protect Jerusalem from their attacks as it was conveyed to him by the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah then challenged Ahaz to ask for a sign, any sign, as proof of validity that the promise was really from God. The King even refused to request a sign as proof. In spite of the refusal Isaiah told Ahaz that the Lord Himself would give a sign which would be that a young woman would conceive, give birth to a son and give to the newborn son the name, "Immanuel". In the Hebrew language Immanuel means “God with us”. This sign was given to King Ahaz to show that a humble peasant woman had more faith in the protection of God than he had.

Centuries later Matthew plucked this passage of scripture out of its context and changed its meaning in order to "prove" that Jesus was divine by being born of the Virgin Mary. There is nothing significant about the young mother in this passage unless it was her faith. Matthew used the Greek version of the Old Testament and mistakenly translated "young" for "virgin". He erroneously took the position that this passage was referring to Mary and that she was a virgin. He also ignored the fact that the child of prophecy was named Immanuel, not Jesus.

To "prove" that Jesus was the one anointed by God, promised by the prophecies, the early church made use of several dubious texts. For Jesus to be the Promised One there was no need for him to be born of a virgin or of a socially correct woman. By insisting on details like this, we lose sight of the essentials – to be born of the Spirit is for one to let the Spirit direct our lives regardless of our origins. This “proof text” approach to Jesus is superficial and misleading. The key to understanding Jesus was his relationship with the Sacred, not dubious details about his physical birth.

We live in a world of threats and dangers. The fear felt by King Ahaz is part of the experience of billions of people today. Many are afraid to go outside at night in many of the big cities. The majority of people have their confidence shaken in the social order. Governments have become sociopathic, cultivating an atmosphere of terrorist threats in order to keep the people submissive. With growing economic inequality and perverted justice the future looks more uncertain than ever. We need a message of hope and something in which to believe despite the appearances of abandonment in the midst of ethical, moral and social chaos in which we live today.

Regardless of the misuse of the text in relation to the person of Jesus, it can have a lot to do with us today. Each one can be an "Immanuel” by living what Jesus did and taught. The GOOD can be present in us as we strive to incarnate the Gospel principles in our life, independent of our creeds. We can be Immanuel as we strive to be rather than to have, to put solidarity above selfish individualism, to forgive rather than to avenge and cultivate compassion to replace judgment. Jesus was Immanuel in the sense that he incarnated the loving qualities of the one that he identified as his Daddy. Our challenge is to be imitators of him, also embodying the Great Good as we identify ourselves with those whom our system has transformed into outcasts. Only as we take up this cross can we become an “Immanuel”, God’s presence in society.


Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”

But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.”

Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: A young woman will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.

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