As we begin the Season of Advent, we will offer a reflection on a phrase each week from Adeste Fideles (O Come, All ye Faithful) as a way to remind each one of us for Whom we are preparing during this Advent season and to remind us Who we are worshiping in the Holy Eucharist.
"Lord, in the Gospel, you teach us to pray and be vigilant. During this Season of Advent, help us to stay awake and be ready for your coming." - Bishop Alfred A. Schlert
FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT
"Yea Lord we greet thee,
born this happy morning,
Jesus to thee be all glory giv'n;
Word of the Father, begotten, not created."
Praised be Jesus Christ!
As we near the celebration of Christmas, we are called to reflect upon how God became man, that is, through the will of God to a Virgin named Mary.
Jesus existed with the Father and the Holy Spirit before time began. Mary, being the Mother of God, did not create Jesus as other babies are created. It was through the will of the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary. In other words, it the through the loving action of the Holy Trinity that God the Son came down to Earth. The birth of Christ is all about love!
It is through this Incarnation of the Son of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit to a Virgin named Mary, that we are saved. The birth of Jesus is the beginning of our salvation. What other proof is needed of how much God loves us than that He gave us His Son? As we continue with the Year of the Real Presence, let us come to adore the one God sent us through the trusting obedience of Our Blessed Mother, Mary.
THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT
"Sing choirs of angels
sing in exultation.
sing, all ye citizens of heav'n above:
Glory to God, all glory in the highest!"
Praised be Jesus Christ!
Throughout Scripture, we hear of the angels announcing the great messages from God. Most especially in the New Testament we hear the angels announcing the birth of Christ to both Mary (Lk 1: 26-38) and St. Joseph (Mt 1: 18-25). Additionally, we hear of the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist through the angel (Lk 1: 5-20). Then, at the Resurrection of Christ we hear the angels announcing to the women the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (Mt 28:2-7) (Jn 20:11-13).
Besides this, the angels are known to be the great adorers of Christ. All throughout scripture we hear of the angels adoring God. Even in our churches we often see images of the angels surrounding the tabernacle adoring the Lord's presence in the Most Holy Eucharist.
In the Nativity of Jesus, we see the Angels, the angels who serve Christ himself, both announcing His birth and adoring Him. The Angels go to the shepherds keeping the night watch and appear to them to tell them that "today in the city of David a savior has been born." (Lk 2:11) Additionally, we see in the same account the Angels praising God "Glory to God in the highest.” (Lk 2: 14)
Just as the angels do, we can testify to the effects of this Incarnation through the spreading of the Word of God. Additionally, like the angels, we can adore God in the saving Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
As we celebrate this Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday when we rejoice that Christ’s birth is almost here, let us also rejoice in the great gift the angels are in our lives, not only as the messengers of Christ's saving power but also our spiritual model for adoration.
SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT
"True God of true God, Light of light eternal
our lowly nature he hath not abhorred;
born of a woman, here in flesh appearing."
Mary holds a very special place in the heart of the faithful at all times during the year, especially during this holy season of Advent. She is honored under many titles in various traditions. However, in this Season of Advent, it is beneficial to reflect on Mary as the Tabernacle of the Lord, the new Ark of the Covenant; the bearer of the True God and Light of Lights.
In the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant is the place where the symbol of the covenant between God and the Israelites is kept, the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments given to Moses by God. This Ark is carried around with the Israelites until they reach the Promised Land where they build the great temple and stored the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies, the most sacred place of the Temple.
Eventually, the Babylonians overthrow the Israelite community and take the Ark of the Covenant. After the Babylonian captivity, the Ark of the Covenant is never restored. While the Holy of Holies is restored, it no longer stores the Ark of the Covenant.
Mary is the new Ark of God's new Covenant with His people. That new covenant is Christ, Who became man and dwelled among us. Just as a cloud of the Lord's glory overshadows the Ark of the Covenant (Ex: 40:35) so does the Holy Spirit overshadow Mary in the Annunciation (Lk 1:35). Additionally, just as King David leaped for joy in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant (2 Sam 6:9), so does St. John the Baptist leap for joy in his mother's womb over being in the presence of Jesus Christ. Mary, is the Ark that is carrying this precious gift for all of us.
As we continue this Season of Advent, let us give thanks to Mary, the Tabernacle of the Lord, for uttering her “yes” to becoming the bearer of the True God and Light of Lights.
FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT
"O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold him, born the king of angels."
In the first stanza of the ancient hymn, we are asked to come with great joy and triumph to Bethlehem to adore Him, the Infant King. This City of Bethlehem is significant for our salvation and for Christ, the King who reigns in our hearts.
Scripture tells us that Mary and Joseph needed to travel to the town of Joseph's ancestors, that is, the Davidic City of Bethlehem (Lk 2: 1-5). The City of Bethlehem was the birthplace of David and the beginning of the line of kings that ruled over Israel. These kings ruled first in public, then in exile during the Babylonian exile. After the Jewish return from exile, the royal line went into hiding. The Gospel of Matthew is the first time where the identities of the kings of Israel is revealed (Mt 1: 1-17) and the person at the end of that line is Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe. Thus, Christ is the fulfillment of the purpose of the kings of Israel, he is the fulfilment of the purpose of all that was taught in the Old Testament through the Law and Prophets. The fulfillment of the prophecy from Jeremiah that "in that time, I will raise up for David a just shoot; he shall do what is right and just." (Jer 33:15).
It is this Christ, the King of the Universe, that the angels and shepherds gathered to worship in Bethlehem as they rejoiced that the King who had come to save us had indeed come. They gather to sing his praises of great goodness. Each time we enter the Church and adore our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament, we are following the example of the angels and shepherds and adoring the Lord, born from the line of David.
As we begin this Season of Advent, the Gospel reminds us to always pray and be vigilant (Lk 21: 36). With renewed faith in the Real Presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament, let us enter into our churches and worship Christ, the King of the Universe, born from the great line of David.