“Arise, Oh Jerusalem, stand upon the height..
And see the joy that is coming to you from God.”
When we enter into Advent, The Church’s four-week preparation, we are stepping into a long horizon watcher. The first ones were Old Testament prophets such as Baruch, who kept vigil to fulfill God’s promise to restore His people and establish His reign on earth. John the Baptist, the last and greatest prophet, was standing watch when that long-awaited moment arrived. In words that recall Baruch and others, John proclaimed the arrival, or “advent,” God’s kingdom and of the Messiah who would usher it in (see Luke 3:4-6)
Christ’s coming changed everything, but still, God’s people are on the watch. In Advent, our vigilance and expectation take on a keener edge. Aiming our spiritual binoculars toward the past, we join with the men and women of old who waited for the Savior with eager longing. Looking to the future, we prepare our hearts to welcome that Savior again – not just at Christmas, but when He returns in glory.
Those of us who would rather watch at the manger than listen for the final trumpet should pay attention to the Old Testament readings in the Advent liturgy. Like the composite verse (above) from Baruch, which appears as the communion antiphon for the second Sunday of Advent, they sound exultant themes of joy and restoration of God’s joy gathering in the poor and oppressed. Jesus began this work at His first coming; He will complete it in his second. The King will establish His perfect reign, and there we will be wrapped injustice and splendor, raised in glory, led in joy. (See Baruch 5:1-9)
Advent is a season of learning to thrill at our destiny, and for that, all humanity might share it. Fundamentally, it is not about buying Christmas gifts and decorating the house. During Advent, we prepare ourselves. We live in hope as we do what we can to bring God’s kingdom into our world.
Father, all-powerful God
Your eternal word took flesh on our earth.
When the Virgin Mary placed her life
At the service of Your plan.
Lift our minds in watchful hope
To hear the voice which announces His glory.
And open our minds to receive the Holy Spirit.
Who prepares us for his coming.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord.