By: Sister Mary Ignatius
The Advent liturgy is a journey which recalls the thousands of years between God’s promise made in Eden and its fulfillment in Bethlehem with the birth of the Messiah. T.S.Elliott calls this Fulfillment “The still point of the turning world,” an event so earth-shattering that nothing remained quite the same again.
Mother Church reaches into the treasury of her riches and lays before us the treasures of the Holy Scripture. She puts a motherly arm around our shoulders and pointing says, “Look, Look, See?” Immediately after the Fall in Eden, the Lord God moves to remedy the damage that the sin of Adam and Eve had created. He promises a Savior who will destroy the power of the serpent completely and restore the wonder of the first creation of Eden. The second, third and fourth Sundays of Advent put before us the prophecies of the prophets Baruch, Zephaniah, and Micah in the first reading at these Masses. These prophets wrote during the fifth to seventh centuries B.C. Advent’s responsorial psalms are frequently taken from the prophet Isaiah. These prophets all speak in wonderful, amazing images of what the world will be like when the Messiah comes.
So, where are the wonderful things the prophets speak of?
We know there are three Advents regarding the Messiah’s coming. The first was the coming of Jesus as in infant at Bethlehem. time and the second happens every day. He comes in the hidden ways of the Eucharist, the Word of Scripture and in the many graces we experience every day. The final one will be His triumphful return at the end of the world. We speak of this as His coming in history, in mystery, and in majesty.
We live today in a world of “already, but not yet.” Jesus has indeed come, but the perfection of that Kingdom will not come until His return. Meanwhile,we experience the tension of living in a world filled with both sin and grace. Living amidst this tension iswhere our faith finds its opportunity for growth and development. We live, as said St. Paul in Hebrews, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Just as the prophets looked forward in hope to the glorious restoration of Eden where people will be at peace with each other and with the whole of creation, so our faith points us that same vision. The prophets lived in times of war and disasters but held on to the expectation of the fulfillment of God’s Promise because God is faithful and He will triumph in the end. Like the prophets, we, too, live in times of war and disasters. We, too, hold on to the expectation of the fulfillment of God’s Promise because God IS faithful and He WILL triumph in the end.