“See, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks –
when I will raise a virtuous Branch for David,
who will reign as true king and be wise,
practising honesty and integrity in the land.
In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel dwell in confidence.
And this is the name he will be called:
“So, then, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks – when people will no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt!’ but, ‘As the Lord lives who led back and brought home the descendants of the House of Israel out of the land of the North and from all the countries to which he had dispersed them, to live on their own soil.'”
This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a man on honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son
and they will call him Emmanuel,
a name which means “God-is-with-us”. When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home.
I’ve often wondered what the word “integrity” means when used in the phrase “The Lord-our-integrity”, so I decided to check it up. According to the dictionary, the word “integrity” can be used in three ways:
1. Adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty
2. A sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition: e.g. the integrity of a ship’s hull
3. The state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: e.g. to preserve the integrity of the empire
That third meaning, the state of being whole, seems to describe exactly what the first reading is talking about. The Hebrew people, because of one reason or another (mainly the Exile), have been spread far and wide throughout the known world. It is the Lord who brings the whole of Israel back together so that the people can once more be whole. This is what it means when Isaiah refers to “The Lord-our-integrity”, the One who makes His people whole.
Is this applicable to us today? Most certainly! In the last four hundred years, Christianity has been split up multiple times to the point in which Christianity exists in tens of thousands of different sects or denominations today, with more being formed every day. So divided is Christianity today, with some denominations teaching something totally opposite to another. But if there is one person who can unite the whole of Christianity under one king, it is our Lord Jesus, the Lord-our-integrity.
Do we suppose, however, that full, visible communion among all Christians can be achieved overnight? Or is this something that will still be on the “To Do” list at the Second Coming? Most likely this is so. When Christ comes again, He will still have to unite all Christians together under Him, because only He can do it. Does this mean to say that Christianity will continue to be divided under Jesus Christ comes again? Not necessarily.
While it may seem at times that we have not come very far in terms of unifying Christianity, there has been a lot of progress made in many parts of the world. Few are the places today where Protestants and Catholics are killing each other as it was some decades ago. We have learnt to begin to see what we have in common and work towards a deeper understanding of each other.
Rest assured that full, visible communion among the Christian denominations isn’t going to take place overnight, but we can see – within our own lifetime – progress that is made on various fronts where Christians of different denominations can work together towards a deeper communion, ready to welcome Jesus when He comes again.
Lord Jesus, come into our hearts and make us ready to welcome our Christian brothers and sisters with the love that You expect us to have for one another. Come, O Lord-our-integrity!
Give Thanks to the Lord for: Teaching us to love one another in spite of our differences.
Wed, 19 Dec – Judges 13:2-7, 24-25a; Luke 1:5-25
Thu, 20 Dec – Isaiah 7:10-14; Luke 1:26-38
Fri, 21 Dec – Songs 2:8-14; Luke 1:39-45; Memorial for St. Peter Canisius, presbyter, religious, doctor of the Church
Sat, 22 Dec – 1 Samuel 1:24-28; Luke 1:46-56
Sun, 23 Dec – Isaiah 7:10-14; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-24; Fourth Sunday of Advent
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