Advent is a time when believers focus on the coming of Christ. We reflect on His first coming, we prepare for His second coming, and we open ourselves to the many ways He comes each day.
“O Come, O Come, Emanuel, and ransom captive Israel…”
It is perhaps the most well-known Advent hymn, one which begins to flood us with the feelings of the coming Christmas season.
But the hymn raises a question. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that “Emanuel” means “God is with us” (Mt. 1:23). So in the song we pray, “O come, O come, God who is already with us!” If He is with us, why are we asking Him to come?
The reason is that there is always more of God that we can receive, more about Him that we can know, more of our old ways that we can cast off, more of the grace of Christ that we can live by. When He comes, He changes and transforms us, and because we are free to thwart and slow down that process of change, there is always more changing that we need. God indeed loves us as we are, but He loves us too much to let us remain the way we are. So He comes and comes again.
He wants to come to every corner of our world, and transform every aspect of our lives. Though we have received Him before, there are dark corners to which we have not yet invited Him. “O come, O come, God who is with us, come to the places where we have not yet allowed you to transform us. Come and remove the sin we still cling to; come and give us the compassion and virtue we do not yet have!”
We ask Him to come and “ransom captive Israel.” He ransoms us personally, and He ransoms us as a society. Praying for His coming, therefore, does not mean simply waiting and looking forward to it. It means preparing for it, and casting aside the obstacles in the way.
It is a preparation for His arrival, namely, by repentance. “Reform your lives! The reign of God is at hand” (Mt. 3:2). The New Testament readings throughout Advent complement and expand on John the Baptist’s exhortations of repentance.
The preparation for Christ’s coming is reform, and the promise of His coming is reconciliation. The two are linked. If the Messiah comes to restore harmony between nations and people, then His people are to repent of whatever destroys that harmony. If the Messiah comes to bring justice then the people of the Messiah are to work to eliminate injustice.
I cannot think of a greater injustice or a greater disharmony than abortion. Abortion is an injustice against the most helpless, and attacks the harmony of human relationships at their most fundamental and sensitive point, the relationship of mother and child. A glaring need here is to restore protection to unborn children. To claim the right to permit the killing of children by abortion is to cease to acknowledge the dominion of the One who comes. It is to refuse to make room for the justice He comes to bring. Preparing for the Lord’s coming, therefore, requires a total rejection of abortion. The promise of His coming heralds a new harmony between mother and child.
The most perfect harmony between mother and child and the culmination of Advent is the Virgin and Child at the nativity. Advent leads the Church to the Silent Night when God Himself is revealed as one of us. This season leads us to the joy of His birth. The beautiful hymn “O Holy Night” sums it up in the verse that says, “Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother, and in His name all oppression shall cease!” May that birth shed protection on all about to be born, and as we work to end abortion, may we “wait in joyful hope for the coming of Our Savior, Jesus Christ.” May the spirit of Advent bolster our pro-life efforts and reconciliation between mother and child.
***Priests for Life is the world’s largest Catholic organization focused exclusively on ending abortion
Copyright 2017 – Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for OCTOBER 2017
Workers and the Unemployed. That all workers may receive respect and protection of their rights, and that the unemployed may receive the opportunity to contribute to the common good.
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