December 20, 2011 - Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Today's Readings

We can thank King Ahaz that he did not ask for a sign. I am confident that whatever sign he would have thought of would be nothing in comparison to the sign he was given. He might have thought that it was very deep, but it would have been shallow in comparison to the depth of the mystery of the Incarnation. He might have thought that it was very high, but it would have been transcended by the height of God himself, who is the child to be born. He was right to not choose the sign, though it frustrated Isaiah.

When Isaiah made King Hezekiah a similar offer, he had asked the sun to go backward in the sky. Imagine all that was involved in reversing the rotation of the Earth without the planet breaking apart. This is an easy thing for God, who holds the world in his hands, but we should be amazed nonetheless. Yet this sign was a little thing compared to the sign that King Ahaz received.

Of course, Ahaz was not around to see the fulfillment of the sign. It would be over 700 years before the sign was fulfilled. Ahaz was as long before the coming of Christ as St. Thomas Aquinas was before our time. So this prophecy is not recorded for Ahaz’s sake but for ours, so that we would know that centuries before it happened, God knew what he was going to do.

The Lord has all of history planned out. While the dinosaurs were still wandering the earth, he knew about Adam and Eve and their sin. Before he made Adam, he knew that we would need a savior. He breathed life into the first man knowing that someday, thousands of years later, some humans, descendents of that man, would kill him. God is never surprised by what happens.

God did not delay the coming of Christ. He told Ahaz that it would happen and for 700 years it did not happen. Then, when the time was right, in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to the town of Nazareth, and a virgin conceived and bore a son and named him, Jesus, which means “God saves”, but he could also be called Emmanuel, which means “God is with us”. So also, it has been almost 2000 years since he said he would return, and he has not. Someday, though, he will.