The Twelve Days of Emmanuel

The roof of a church against the evening sky

Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel (which means, God with us) (Mt 1:23)

The joy of Christmas is the joy of Emmanuel. Our God is not distant from us: he is in our very midst. Nor is his presence some abstract proposition. His closeness is as real as a hungry baby awaking Mary and Joseph in the middle of the night. And even more, Jesus reveals himself to be God-with-us, not just as a neighbor, but as the dweller within my soul. Our Emmanuel has sent his Holy Spirit into our very hearts (Rom 5:5).

In response, let our constant prayer be: God be with me! In good times and in bad, God be with me. In sickness and in health, God be with me. Whatever today holds, may you hold me.

To help us entrust ourselves to Emmanuel, here are twelve of the many Scripture passages that highlight God-with-us. Each verse is followed by a short prayer.

Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you. (Gen 28:15)

When doubts arise, Jesus, Emmanuel, be with me. Strengthen my trust in your faithful love.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me. (Ps 23:4)

When fears grip my soul, Jesus, Emmanuel, be with me. Shepherd me along your path.

When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
I was stupid and ignorant,
I was like a beast toward you.
Nevertheless I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand. (Ps 73:21–23)

When resentment blinds me, Jesus, Emmanuel, be with me. Take me by the hand.

Do not fear, for I am with you,
do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. (Is 41:10)

When I am weak, Jesus, Emmanuel, be with me. Be my strength; be my victory.

The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love. (Zeph 3:17)

When I rejoice, Jesus, Emmanuel, be with me. Renew me in your love.

Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!… Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. (Lk 1:28, 30)

Thank you, Jesus, Emmanuel, for coming to us through Mary. May our Mother draw us ever nearer to you.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. (Jn 15:4)

In my attempts to spread the Gospel, Jesus, Emmanuel, be with me. Bear your fruit through me.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Rev 3:20)

In my loneliness, Jesus, Emmanuel, be with me. Savor the intimacy of my heart.

Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent. (Lk 24:29)

When darkness falls, Jesus, Emmanuel, be with me. Be the light that never fades.

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Mt 18:20)

In community, Jesus, Emmanuel, be with me. May I love you in my brothers.

And behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age. (Mt 28:20)

Wherever I am, Jesus, Emmanuel, be with me. Be my ever-present friend.

Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away. (Rev 21:3–4)

In the next life, Jesus, Emmanuel, be with me. May we be eternally together.

Image by Luca Baggio

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Br. Joseph Martin Hagan graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2009. The following year, he spent trekking around Ireland, serving with N.E.T. Ministries. Then, he returned to Notre Dame's Echo program and completed an M.A. in theology, while serving in the Diocese of Wilmington, DE. Br. Joseph entered the Order of Preachers in 2012. On