St Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
Matthew begins his narrative with the angel’s appearance to Joseph and comments “All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,’ which means, ‘God is with us’.” He ends the narrative with Jesus’ words: “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” “God is with us;” “I am with you always;” Emmanuel. Appropriately, the Lectionary chooses the portion of Isaiah which includes “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what it fears, or be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall regard as holy; let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. He will become a sanctuary, a stone one strikes against; for both houses of Israel he will become a rock one stumbles over– a trap and a snare for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” In these chapters of Isaiah Emmanuel is about both judgment and salvation (7:14; 8:8, 10)—depending largely on the hearers’ choices. We might hear “Do not call…” as also a guide to making good choices, for then as now there is plenty that demands our fear. Few of us have as much freedom as we’d like, but we can choose whom to fear. As did Matthew.