The season of Advent compels us to reckon with the coming of Christ and his coming to us is three-fold- in history, in mystery and in glory.
God in Christ appears in history, for the Gospel we profess to be true is not the telling of a myth or memory of a legend, but testimony to God entering real space, real time, into the real world. God in Christ accepted a human nature and lived a real, human life. God came to us and one day we will meet him, in Christ, and what will encounter in that meeting is real flesh and real blood. This revelation is called the Incarnation and if you are a Christian you believe the Incarnation is a fact of history.
But the revelation of God in Christ is not limited to an event in the past, but Christ comes to us now in the present, in holy mystery. He is with us in his Mystical Body, the Church, which is not merely an institution, but the extension of his Incarnation in space and time. In the Church we encounter the living Body of Jesus Christ. This living Body of Christ in the Church reveals himself in the Sacraments, particularly in the Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist, which is not just a symbol of Christ or an expression of communal identity, but the real and true living presence of Christ himself. It is Jesus Christ we encounter, adore and receive in the Blessed Sacrament. In this mystery he reveals himself in time, in this present moment.
This living Body of Christ also extends his presence in the bodies of the poor, and it is in our service to the poor that we serve Christ himself. It is in the bodies of the poor that Christ makes himself known to us, in time, in this present moment.
And finally, Christ will reveal himself in glory, which means that in the end of our lives and at the end of all ages, Christ will reveal himself to us, and in this revelation the light of his truth will dispel the shadows of our own truth, dispelling the lies that imprison us, freeing us from the false gods that afflict us. When he comes to us in glory, we will meet him face to face, and in that moment what we have done and failed to do will be of utmost importance.
As such now is the moment to prepare ourselves to meet him- now, not later, lest when we meet him, we meet him as a stranger, rather than as a friend.
In the first scripture for today, the prophet Isaiah castigates the hubris that insists that humanity can save itself through defensive structures and institutions. No matter how powerful the nations we build… No matter how grand the cities our ingenuity constructs… No matter how enduring our institutions… Salvation comes not from these things, but from the Lord himself. Unless the creative potential of humanity be set on the “eternal Rock”, that is founded upon God’s will and purposes, our endeavors will undermine and threaten us.
Christ the Lord insists that unless our relationship with him must be a matter of substance rather than superficiality, we risk being lost.
If our interest in Christ is cursory, our desire to be with him intermittent, our service to him lacking zeal, our sacrifice for him minimal, then our relationship with Christ will be as insubstantial as a foundation laid for a house on sand. The structure of our life will not hold and will be inevitably ruined.
It is not Christ’s will that any be lost, his journey into the farthest reaches of suffering and death demonstrates this to be true! But as he desires our love, he will not coerce us, and therefore we must choose, we must decide- will our relationship with him be one of substance or superficiality? Will we be his friend or remain a stranger?
Advent impresses upon us the urgency and necessity of our decision.
Do not wait. Now is the moment of decision.