“Behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:20)

The absolute manner in which this I am with you—in the emphatic present tense and coming from Jesus’ own mouth—imposes its promise without restrictions or exceptions constitutes the very core of the Good News, the literal fulfillment, through Jesus’ free commitment, of the symbolism behind his name Emmanuel (“God with us”, 1:23 = Is 7:14). The one to whom Isaiah and Gabriel referred in the distant future and in the third person has now become a burning presence who says of himself: Behold, I am with you always. Such an affirmation of presence, using the limitless verbal expression ἐγώ εἰμι (I AM), carries with it a pledge of absolute transtemporal and transspatial presence that only God himself can make. With Christ’s presence, eternity itself has invaded our world, since “eternity” is not an endless extension of time but, rather, God’s very own interior life poured out over his creatures. By referring to himself with such solemn assurance, Jesus is pledging his whole person to his listeners as only God can.

Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word: Meditations on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, Chapters 1–25, vol. 3 (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996–2012), page 681–682.

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