In the Old Testament, the Jews waited hundreds of years for the coming of the Messiah. They watched, prayed, and hoped that one day the promised Savior would come to the earth. I am sure at times, with all the trials they faced, the years could not go fast enough and His arrival seemed it would never be a reality. They went through an immense amount of suffering and tribulation, and finally, when the time was right, our Blessed Lord came down from Heaven and was born in a manger.
Advent is now upon us, the time during which we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ, just as the people of the Old Testament did. Yet unlike the Jews, who did not know Our Lord, we know Him! We know Him in all His miracles, in His Resurrection from the dead, and in all the proofs we need to be convinced that He is truly the Lord.
The Jews who were awaiting the Messiah had none of this. All they had was hope and anticipation for Our Lord. They clung to the prophecies of His coming, but could hardly imagine the immensity of good He would bring through His life. We not only have proofs, but Jesus Himself dwells within our tabernacles waiting for us! If the Jews could see into the future, I’m certain they would be shocked. When God came down to meet His people in the Old Testament, only the High Priest was allowed to go into the Holy of Holies to see Him. God wanted to prove after His coming in the flesh how merciful He is. His Sacred Heart burns with the desire to make His presence and grace available to all who seek it. Let us then remember a few simple points to help us keep the spirit of Advent:
The Old Testament was a time of justice and order. After the fall of Adam, God wanted to show the human race that through His will, all good things would flow therefrom. Men were hard in their ways and God had to use His justice in order to help men return to Him. Yet in the New Testament, when our great God came down to earth as an innocent Baby, He wanted nothing more than to embrace tenderly the human race, in order to show His infinite love and mercy.
In our modern times, He rests in our tabernacles, sits in the confessional, and looks down from Heaven waiting for our gaze to fall upon Him. Yet because our world can be so distracting and noisy, and God is so forgiving, we can often forget all these amazing realities. Life becomes tedious and boring, and we forget we are under the gaze of a God Who is far more beautiful and wondrous than we could ever imagine! Do not let the world convince you God is not present, but remind yourself every day that He is watching. He watches, not in wrath and anger, but with a love we will only be able to comprehend in Heaven.
Let us do our best to make our Morning Offering, say our prayers through the day, and try our best to stay in the presence of God. It may seem like a chore at first, but when we realize all we are doing is staying in the presence of our dear Father and best Friend, our perspective will change. Advent is a time for preparation for the Messiah, for the coming of Our Lord Who can heal any ailment and forgive any sin. Bring all your troubles to the crib of the Infant Jesus, for He is fully capable of granting you all that you need.
Penance is good, but is never the focus, or an end in itself. The focus is always God, and the greater good He can pull from what we give Him. Let us pray during Advent for the grace of joy, so that the Devil cannot overwhelm us with discouragement or pride because of the magnitude of suffering we put ourselves through. Our true end is joy, and the message of Advent is the coming of this joy! Let us do all things with a spirit of peace and happiness, just as God intended.
As Advent begins, we still have time to examine our souls, dust away any traces of worry and discouragement, and look towards the hope of Christmas. The hope of Christmas brings grace and consolation, and will later on bring the sheer joy of the Resurrection and triumph of Our Lord and the Catholic Church.