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Jesus, God Saves

by Fr. Jason Laguerta

Finally, fourth Sunday of Advent, we are about to finish our Christmas preparations and soon in a few hours we will celebrate the birth of the Messiah, the birth of the promised Savior of the world.

We are now back to the Annunciation. On the fourth Sunday of Advent, we read from St. Luke about the account of the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that soon she will carry in her womb the Son of God, the Son of the Most High. And specifically, the angel told her you are to name him "Jesus." The same name that was given to Joseph in the Gospel of Matthew. In a dream, the same angel, angel Gabriel, also instructed St. Joseph, "and you are to name him Jesus."

We talk about names in this Advent preparation because the meaning of names has a lot to do with the story of Christmas. First of all, the meaning of the name John, "God is gracious," Zechariah, "God remembers," Elizabeth, Elisheva, "God makes a promise."

And now, Jesus. He is to be named "Jesus," "Yeshua," "Yahweh saves, God saves."

At the end of our Christmas preparations and the time of waiting, we are given the name Jesus. It's a foretaste, a portent of the things to come, of the child's destiny, of what he will be. The name of Jesus tells us significantly about who shall He be, His mission, His destiny. He is the Savior of the world, Yeshua.

Christmas is about "Emmanuel." Yes, that's from the Prophet Isaiah, telling us about the promise of Jesus to King Ahaz. In the Old Testament, there is the prophecy about Emmanuel, God with us. But the name of the child shall be Yeshua, "God saves." We need a Savior.

The reason why God decided to be born in our midst, well first of all, because of his great love for us, from the abundance of his love. For God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son. Yes, that's the reason for sending us his Son. But also because he has a mission to fulfill, and that is to save humanity, to save us from our sinfulness, to save us from the darkness that we are going through, to save us from our arrogance and pride, to save us from our self-sufficiency, to save us from ourselves, so that we will not be scattered, so that we will not remain confused and living in darkness.

He comes to save us. On the first Sunday of Advent, the name to be given to the child is Jesus. So we ask ourselves this Sunday, the final Sunday of waiting in Advent, from which should you be saved by Jesus? What are the things in our life that need saving? Because we cannot just rely on ourselves. We cannot just rely on our so-called resources, abilities, our devices. We cannot save ourselves. That is why the first Sunday of Advent, as we anticipate the birth of the Messiah, we know already his name.

We have a name. Even before he was born, he was given a name, so that we can understand who he is, so that we can be clear about what he shall be.

We need a Savior. So before Christmas Eve and before the celebration of Paschal and Christmas in our families, ask Jesus, ask Yeshua, what do I need to be saved from? What are the things in my life that are in need of healing, that are in need of light, in need of truth, in need of clarity? What are the things in my life that need to be sorted out? Because we ourselves cannot do it. We cannot fix ourselves. We cannot save ourselves.

We need to be saved. And it takes a lot of humility for a person to accept that he or she needs to be helped. God decided to be born in our midst so that we can rely on Him, so that we can depend on Him, so that we can lean on Him, so that He can save us.

This is God's reminder to us of the name Jesus, that no matter how good we are, no matter how smart or able we are, we are still flawed, weak human beings. We cannot save ourselves. We need a Savior.

What aspect of your life that is in need of saving? Is it your family? Is it your personal grievances, weaknesses, and shortcomings? Is it your wounds and sickness? What area or aspect of your life do you want to be saved from or do you want to be healed?

Yeshua, the name is Jesus, the name of the Savior who comes in the manger, but at the background of the manger is the shadow of the cross. He is Emmanuel, born God with us, but he also has a destiny to fulfill, to save humanity.

Merry Christmas to everyone. God bless you all.

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