The Lord cometh from afar: on the first Sunday of Advent
By Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalene | 29 November 2023
From Divine Intimacy
The Lord is coming; I place myself in His presence and go to meet Him with all the energy of my will.
“The Name of the Lord cometh from afar…. I look from afar, and behold I see the power of God coming. … Go out to meet Him, and say, ‘Tell us if You are He who shall rule…’”
These words are taken from [this Sunday’s] liturgy, and in reply, it invites us, “Come, let us adore the King, the Lord who is coming!” (Roman Breviary).
This coming was expected for long ages; it was foretold by the prophets, and desired by all the just who were not granted to see its dawn. The Church commemorates and renews this expectation with each recurring Advent, expressing this longing to the Saviour who is to come. The desire of old was sustained solely by hope, but it is now a confident desire, founded on the consoling reality of the Redemption already accomplished. Although historically completed nineteen centuries ago, this longing should be actualised daily, renewed in ever deeper and fuller reality in every Christian soul. The spirit of the Advent liturgy, commemorating the age-long expectation of the Redeemer, will prepare us to celebrate the mystery of the Word made Flesh by arousing in each one of us an intimate, personal expectation of the renewed coming of Christ to our soul. This coming is accomplished by grace; to the degree in which grace develops and matures in us, it becomes more copious, more penetrating, until it transforms the soul into an alter Christus. Advent is a season of waiting and of fervent longing for the Redeemer: “Drop down dew, ye heavens, and let the clouds rain the Just One!” (ibid.).
In [Sunday’s] epistle (Rom 13:11–14), St. Paul exhorts us, “Brethren, it is now the hour … to rise from sleep.”
During Advent, the “springtime” of the Church, we must rouse ourselves and bring forth new fruits of sanctity. Even now, the Apostle shows us the great fruits of Advent: “Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light … put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.”
If we have been somewhat drowsy and languid in Our Lord’s service, now is the time to rouse ourselves to a new life, to strip ourselves generously of our meanness and weakness, and to “put on Jesus Christ,” that is, His holiness.
In order to help us attain this end, Jesus encourages us by reminding us of His love in coming as our Redeemer: He comes to meet us with His grace; it is infinite mercy that inclines to us.
On the other hand, the Church, in [Sunday’s] gospel (Lk 21:25–33), puts before us the last coming of Jesus as supreme Judge, “and then they shall see the Son of Man coming in a cloud, with great power and majesty.” He came with love to Bethlehem; He comes with grace into our souls; He will come with justice at the end of the world: Christ’s triple coming, the synthesis of Christianity, an invitation to a vigilant, trusting expectation, “Lift up your heads, for your redemption is at hand!”
“O my God, Word of the Father, Word made flesh for love of us, You assumed a mortal body in order to suffer and be immolated for us. I wish to prepare for Your coming with the burning desires of the prophets and the just who in the Old Testament sighed after You, the one Saviour and Redeemer. ‘O Lord, send Him whom You are going to send. … As You have promised, come and deliver us!’ I want to keep Advent in my soul, that is, a continual longing and waiting for this great Mystery wherein You, O Word, became flesh to show me the abyss of Your redeeming, sanctifying mercy.
“O sweetest Jesus, You come to me with Your infinite love and the abundance of Your grace; You desire to engulf my soul in torrents of mercy and charity in order to draw it to You. Come, O Lord, come! I too wish to run to You with love, but alas! my love is so limited, weak and imperfect! Make it strong and generous; enable me to overcome myself, so that I can give myself entirely to You. Yes, my love can become strong because “its foundation is the intimate certainty that it will be repaid by the love of God. O Lord, I cannot doubt Your tenderness, because You have given me proofs of it in so many ways, with the sole purpose of convincing me of it. Therefore, trusting in Your love, my weak love will become strong with Your strength. What a consolation it will be, O Lord, at the moment of death to think that we shall be judged by Him whom we have loved above all things! Then we can enter Your presence with confidence, despite the weight of our offences!”St Teresa of Avila, The Way of Perfection, 40
O Lord, give me love like this! I desire it ardently, not only to escape Your stern eye at Judgment, but especially in order to repay You in some degree for Your infinite charity.
O Lord, do not, I beseech You, permit that this exceeding great love which led You to become incarnate for my salvation, be given in vain! My poor soul needs You so much! It sighs for You as for a compassionate physician, who alone can heal its wounds, draw it out of its languor and tepidity, and infuse into it new vigour, new enthusiasm, new life. Come, Lord, come! I am ready to welcome Your work with a docile, humble heart, ready to let myself be healed, purified, and strengthened by You. Yes, with Your help, I will make any sacrifice, renounce everything that might hinder Your redeeming work in me. Show Your power, O Lord, and come! Come, delay no longer!