Electronic Prayer Book

Behold! The Messiah Is Coming

 

The Season of Advent

 

From the First Sunday of Advent to December 24

 

The whole of the Advent liturgy is one pressing appeal for the coming of the Saviour. The cries of ardent longing which went up to the Messiah throughout Old Testament times are taken up again by the Church who puts them on our lips, and causes us to repeat them ever more urgently, as Christmas draws near.

This season contains a beautiful combination of Scriptures announcing the theme that runs through the whole of Advent.

Long, long had I been watching. Behold now I do see God coming in power, as in a cloud of light that covers the entire land. Rush out to meet Him. Ask: “Tell us, are You the One To rule the people of Israel?” All you men of dust, all you, whether rich or poor. Rush out to meet Him.

“O Shepherd of Israel, please listen; You who lead Joseph like a flock; Tell us, are You the One?”

Gates lift up your doors; eternal portals, open wide, that the King of Glory may enter to rule the people, Israel.

Our Saviour has come, of course, but we still await Him. For ourselves and for our own times we await His graces of redemption and sanctification which are to transform our human lives to the likeness of His. For ourselves and all the generations of mankind which are to follow one another we await, at the end of time, the glorious return of Christ, the Redeemer of the world, who will lead in with Himself all of the elect to the kingdom of His Father. It is the whole work of Christ, even in its most remote repercussions that the Church sets before us in the light of the texts from revelation.

The long awaited Messiah is King, not only of His own people, Israel, but of all nations. He is God’s own Son, become man to save all men and to lead them in His company to the kingdom of His Father. To those who accept Him here below as their Saviour He will say one day, “Come you blessed of My Father, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world.”

Advent opens up before us immense perspectives. The Church sets before us the whole work of redemption. As one human generation follows upon another the kingdom of God must expand until the day when Christ, gathering together His elect from the four corners of the earth, will bring them before His Father as His triumphal conquest to be led by Him into His kingdom.

We should ardently desire this twofold coming of Christ representing grace for this life here below and glory in the world to come. Our Lord’s incarnation is the source of all Christian hope. As the Church prepares us to celebrate His coming into this world as an event of the past she calls us to work with her in the extension of His kingdom, in the expectation and unconquerable hope of His second coming.

The time of waiting which separates us from this final achievement is given to the Church to proclaim the good news of salvation to the very ends of the earth.

The liturgy of this season is arranged around the three great figures of Isaiah, St. John the Baptist and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Through their providential roles there is recalled in wondrous fashion both the remote and immediate preparation by God of the salvation that He promised to the world after the sin of our first parents.

Isaiah is the great Advent Prophet, In the eighth century before Christ, at the most difficult period of Jewish history, he calls on the people to trust in God alone and await the salvation of the Messiah which is to come. After a time of harsh exile the Messiah will save His people, the remnant of Israel, will cause peace to reign over the world and perfect justice, and will spread abroad knowledge of the true God among all nations.

John the Baptist, the last of the prophets and the first witness to the coming of the Messiah, shows the Anointed One to us and earnestly calls on us to go out to meet Him: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” John’s message is one of penance and of the need of conversion.

Lastly, the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Saviour’s Mother, in whom the mystery of grace is accomplished with unequalled fullness before it is extended to the rest of mankind. By her faith and acceptance of God’s plans for her she personifies the Church’s expectancy and welcome of the Anointed One, the Christ.

May the urgent appeals of the great Prophet, the Baptist’s exhortations and the Blessed Virgin Mary’s intercession, prepare us to celebrate the birth of our Saviour with the fervent love which inspired them in the face of God’s plan for the salvation of the world.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!