Advent is a season of hope. On one level this works very naturally. Most of us, since we were children, eagerly anticipate Christmas each year.
But the roots of Advent run even deeper. The entire Old Testament is a kind of Advent — a waiting and a longing for the coming of Christ.
Most of us experience a similar sense of longing when we look at the world today. We would like Christ to come, to bring His peace and set things right.
We’re longing for God to have the final word in history. And there’s a crucial — though often not well understood — element of our faith that assures us that He does: the doctrine that, with the death of the last apostle, public revelation has ended. God has said all that needs to be said — in some respects, all that can be said — for the salvation of the world.
We’re confident in holding this quite simply because, in Jesus, God has become man and, through the Holy Spirit, the divine life has been given to us. The Catechism (460) quotes St. Irenaeus, St. Athanasius and St. Thomas Aquinas in support of this point: God has assumed human nature, that humans might share the divine nature. This reality is reflected in the words of the Mass: “By the mingling of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled Himself to share in our humanity.” In a qualitative sense, there is nothing further to be said or done.
But this truth has been given to us as a seed. It remains for us to cultivate it — to allow Christ to grow in us, and for us to grow to full stature in Christ. We’re still childlike in this sense: we have so much growing to do. Advent draws us back to this childhood, no matter how old we are.
Perhaps, this week, we should take our key lesson from the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec. 12). In her apparitions to St. Juan Diego, Mary brought Christ to Mexico, and brought Mexico to Christ. Our world today is groaning — physically, politically, and spiritually — waiting for us to imitate Mary.
The Psalm for the feast day states: “Your deed of hope will never be forgotten.” In its historical context this was spoken of Judith, who saved Israel from an invading Assyrian army. In the context of the feast day, it’s spoken of Mary, who brought the savior to Israel and to Mexico.
It’s also an exhortation for us. Mary’s deed of hope was to say “Yes” to God and to conceive Christ. She brought Him to physical birth in ancient Israel, and to mystical birth in Mexico in the 1500s. The deed of hope that the world needs from us today is for us to say “Yes” to the Holy Spirit, to conceive Christ in our lives, and to bring Him to birth spiritually in our country, our city, our neighborhood.
By God’s grace, we’ve been given Christ’s life. Our Advent hope — and the world’s – is that we will grow to full stature in Him.