Aelred of Rievaulx (1110-1167), Cistercian monk
Sermon for the Annunciation
“They shall name him Emmanuel”
“Emmanuel, which means ‘God with us’.” Yes, God with us! Until now it was “God above us” or “God before us”, but today he is “Emmanuel”. Today he is God with us in our nature, with us in his grace; with us in our weakness, with us in his goodness; with us in our wretchedness, with us in his pity; with us through love, with us through familial tie, with us through tenderness, with us through compassion…
God with us! You were not able, O sons of Adam, to climb to heaven to be with God; it is God who descends from heaven to be our Emmanuel, God-with-us. He comes to us to be Emmanuel, God-with-us, yet we fail to go to God to be in him! “Men of rank, how long will you be dull of heart? Why do you love what is vain and seek after falsehood?” (Ps 4,3). Behold, the truth has come; “why love what is vain and seek after falsehood?” Behold, the true and unchanging word has come; “why seek after falsehood?” Behold Emmanuel, behold God-with-us.
How could he be with me any more than he is? Small as I am, weak as I am, naked as I am, poor as I am… he has become like me in all things, taking what is mine and giving me what is his. I was lying dead, without voice, without consciousness; not even the light of my eyes was with me any more. He came down today, this greatest of men, “this prophet mighty in deed and word,” (Lk 24,19). He placed his face on my face, his mouth on my mouth, his hands on my hands (cf. 2Kgs 4,34) and he became Emmanuel, God-with-us!