Click HERE for the readings.
Our first reading today tells of Ahaz, the king of Judah (732-716 BC), who was known for forming alliances with the enemies of Israel’s God. He put his trust in foreign kings and refused to place his trust in Israel’s God. As such, he is remembered as an evil king
Through Isaiah, the LORD said to Ahaz that if he asked for a sign from God, he would receive a sign. In other words, if he asked for a sign, God would show him that he could put his trust in Israel’s God and reject the gods of the pagan nations around him.
But Ahaz feigned humility: “I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!”
In reality, Ahaz didn’t want God to give him a sign, or tell him what God’s plans for him were, or point Ahaz in a new direction. Ahaz wanted to do what Ahaz wanted to do. He could not care less about signs from God. He had made up his mind and will be remembered for not doing what was right in the sight of the LORD (2 Kings 16:2).
In response, Isaiah said, “Is it not enough for you to weary people, must you also weary my God?” He went on to say what the sign would be, whether Ahaz asked for it or not (and whether we ask for it or not): “The virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”
Next week, on Christmas, we celebrate the great sign that God does have plans for us; he has given us a new direction. He gives us Jesus, born of the virgin, to be the Lord of our lives, Master of our hearts, the Way to Heaven, our savior.
May we learn to love the sign that God has given to us. The babe born in Bethlehem is to be our guide and our hope. It helps to reflect on Ahaz, who didn’t want a sign from God (and failed), so that we will rejoice in having the sign from God (and succeed all the way to eternal life). The sign of the child born of the virgin is himself Emmanuel, God with us.
Have a blessed week as we now prepare our hearts to celebrate the great feast of God’s coming to us in the flesh — Christmas.