Joy Inspired Through Incarnation: Week Three of Advent [18DEC2013]
Readings: Psalm 45, 47, 48 ◊ Isaiah 9:1-7 ◊ 2 Peter 1:12-21 ◊ Luke 22:54-69 ◊ 1 John 1:1
Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise! For the Lord Most High is awesome. He is the great King of all the earth. (Psalm 47:1-2)
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen! (Isaiah 9:2, 6-7)
We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain. (2 Peter 1:16-18)
“This is what we proclaim to you: what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked upon and our hands have touched—we speak of the word of life.” (1 John 1:1)
The promises of God and the historical record of their unfolding are what produce joy in His followers. My thoughts, based on this premise, follow (thoughts on joy have been inspired by the writings of Joan Chittister from her book The Liturgical Year, part of the Ancient Practices series):
- Joy is not about what happens to us.
- Joy is the meaning we give to what we do that determines the nature—the quality—of the lives we live.
- Joy is not about self-centeredness (John 5:30)
- Happiness (true happiness) is not about self-satisfaction; it is about the joy that comes with a sense of purpose.
- Joy comes from living our lives immersed in the will of God; not self-aggrandizement.
- Joy is not in “things,” if we are found in Christ, joy is in us.
God presents himself to us little by little. The whole story of salvation is the story of God who comes. It is always he who comes, even if he has not yet come in his fullness. But there is indeed one unique moment in his coming; the others were only preparations and announcement.
The hour of his coming is the Incarnation.
The Incarnation brings the world his presence. It is a presence so complete that it overshadows every presence before it. God is made human in Christ. God makes himself present to us with such a special presence, such an obvious presence, as to overthrow all the complicated calculations made about him in the past. “The invisible, intangible God has made himself visible and tangible in Christ.”
If Jesus is truly God, everything is clear; if I cannot believe this, everything darkens again.
(By Carlo Carretto, The God Who Comes)
Each of the O Antiphons highlights a different title for the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel. Also, each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah. A particularly fascinating feature of the O Antiphons is that the first letter of each invocation, when read backwards, forms an acrostic in Latin: the first letters of Sapientia, Adonai, Radix, Clavis, Oriens, Rex, and Emmanuel in reverse form the Latin words: ERO CRAS. These can be understood as the words of Christ, responding to his people’s plea, saying “Tomorrow I will be there.”
O Adonai (Is. 11:4-5; 33:22): “O Adonai and leader of Israel, you appeared to Moses in a burning bush and you gave him the Law on Sinai. O come and save us with your mighty power.”
Blessed by you, Lord God of Israel, for you have looked favorably on your people and redeemed them; you have raised up a might Savior for us, just as you spoke through your holy prophets of old.
O God of peace, sanctify me entirely; may you keep my spirit, soul and body sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because you have called me and you are faithful, I believe you will do this.
Pour into us now, O most loving One, the gift of eternal grace, so that, by the misfortunes of new deception, old error may not destroy us. O God, the Father of all humankind, you bid us listen to your Son, the well-beloved. Nourish our hearts on your word, purify he eyes of our mind, and fill us with joy at the vision of your glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, on God forever and ever. Amen.