“O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer / Our spirits by Thine advent here / Disperse the gloomy clouds of night / And death’s dark shadows put to flight. / Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel / Shall come to thee, O Israel.”
- O Come, O Come Emmanuel, verse 4 (traditional)
Much of the world is preparing for the arrival of Christmas festivities. However the four gospel readings for the season of Advent remind us that we are not simply awaiting a memorial of the birth of the Christ Child. On the first Sunday we hear Jesus’ chilling words describing the coming of the Son of Man, what we commonly understand to be the second coming of Christ. It’s not a past event we are memorializing, but a future event for which we strive to heed Jesus’ command to “Keep awake.” On the second Sunday we hear Mark’s introduction of John the Baptist, who in turn is preparing his listeners for the coming of the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. On the third Sunday we hear again about John the Baptist, this time in more detail. The coming one is identified as “the true light which enlightens everyone,” and it’s clear that John is not speaking of a gentle infant in a crib. Finally on the fourth Sunday of Advent, we have mention of the Christ Child, as the angel Gabriel tells Mary of her impending pregnancy.
Advent is about the coming of Christ, both past and future. Our Lord entered human history as Mary’s infant son so long ago, and our Lord will come again to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
May this Advent season orient you towards Christ’s grace and compassion, and help you live in hopeful expectation.