Advent: The sacrament of waiting!

Saint Bernard describes advent as “a sacrament” of the presence of God in the world, preparing in an obscure and hidden way, for the final appearance of His Kingdom.

Advent places a special importance on the coming of Christ to the Human person. His hidden birth in our lives, his presence here and now in the mystery of prayer draws us to the Word and the Sacrament where He is present.

We now assume a stance of waiting for the coming of the Lord. Advent is filled with the language of vigilance as an expression of purity of heart. We are called to leave the worldly and to watch with lamps trimmed, like the wise virgins, for the Coming of the Spirit.

This is a basic Christian truth, common to us all, which is why vigils are such a rich part of our Catholic heritage: the Christmas Vigil, the Easter Vigil, the vigil of Pentecost. To keep vigil for the Lord, is our common attribute as we enter most profoundly the great mystery of waiting.

We are called to turn away from the noise and the clutter of the world and seek out the stillness and quiet of an Elijah’s cave or a Baptist’s desert. In this way, we can seek God alone, who is beyond all visible things, and because we seek Him hidden in this season of Advent, He seeks us, hidden in this same season.

And here is the key to the mystery in which we are about to embark: That the Incarnation is our mutual discovery of each other: God of man, man of God. And this mystery finds its core in Christ, God made man. As the Bible tells us so often: “He has pitched His Tent and made His dwelling among us.”

In order to find him, we must learn to abandon ourselves to him; we can never overcome the world by ourselves. This is the hardest lesson of all; to surrender in the face of the Trinity and allow God to walk with us on our pilgrim way. We don’t want to believe that this Powerful God would have anything to do with us. We don’t want to believe that He seeks us out for love.

We don’t want to believe that we need help in loving, but we do. Our incorporation into the mystery of Christ; which is the gift of divine life within us is the purest manifestation of God’s love. St. Paul says, “In this is love…that he has first loved us.”

Saint Bernard put it wonderfully: “Divine mercy is most evident in the tenderness with which the infinite God tempers the strength of His Light to the weakness of our eyes and becomes a Man like the rest of us.”

My dear friends, let us enter more deeply into the mysteries of Christ’s life by using our own humanity to find him. May our discovery of his presence be a joy for our souls.