King Ahaz appears in the first reading this Sunday. He resigned in Judah, and saw the conquest of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 ( there is a dispute about the exact years of his reign). To avoid conquest he allied himself with the Assyrian king Tiglath-pilessar III, who effectively became his sovereign. He was a young king and so, ineffective and hesitant. He also accepted the worship of Assyrian religion. Long his cojnserns was succession, hence the exchange in our first reading.

Most commentators seem to get lost in the issue of the virgin, a type of Mary. In this case however, there is no suggestion of parthenogenic birth, but rather that the woman was young and unsullied, and her virgin state did not continue after the birth.

Arguably more important for us is the name of the child — Emmanuel, that is to say “God is with us.” What an assurance amidst the chaos of the times in which Ahaz lived. As we ourselves thrash about in dark times looking for something to save us, we ask how can we make this proclamation of God with us an effective cry of the heart that we will be saved.

Children today come into the world not always welcomed, seen rather as a problem or an economic drain or something unwanted, and so by the same token, one wonders if we really look at all for God to save us. We’ve come to the point, by the benefits of science and technology, that we think we can save ourselves. The connection here is that as Joseph is a man of dreams and Ahaz a man confronted with a prophet, just how much have we lost by not seeing our own selves in these Biblical exemplars. We have lost a lot! and what could we gain by rekindling our fundamental dreams?

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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