December 6, 2019
by CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN
A blessed Advent Season!
We all know that these four weeks (less this year) of Advent offer the invitation to prepare for the coming of Christ.
Wait a minute, though! Didn’t Christ already come? Isn’t that precisely what we will celebrate on December 25? How can we now prepare for a coming of Christ that occurred 2,019 years ago?
Good question! Well, you’re right Christ did, as a matter of fact, come in history that first Christmas in Bethlehem. So, we can hardly prepare now for that coming in history, since it already happened. We can, of course, get ready spiritually to celebrate that birth of Jesus, which is certainly a classical call of Advent.
However, that arrival of Christ in history is hardly the only time He shows up!
We also believe that He will come, in majesty, as Judge of the living and the dead at the end of the world, His Second Coming. Advent cogently reminds us to get ready for that ultimate “showing up” of our Lord!
My good friend, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, and I often discuss religion. One day he commented, “You know, both of us, Jews and Christians, are waiting for the Messiah to come.”
I was startled at first, but then had to nod in agreement when he explained: “It’s just that we Jews are waiting for Him to come the first time, while you Christians are looking for Him to come a second time!”
The rabbi knows that we Christians believe the Christ will come a second time. Do we? Reflect on that these weeks.
But there’s also a third, middle way the Savior comes: yes, He came (past tense) in history; yes, He will come (future tense) in majesty; and He comes now (present tense!) in mystery!
Jesus comes to us right now in an abundance of ways. True, they are usually subtle, gentle, hidden, simple, unassuming ways…in our faith, our prayers, our family and friends, in the awe of creation and the cry of the sick and the poor, in His Church, in His Holy Word read, reflected upon, proclaimed and preached, and in His sacraments.
To sense His coming now in mystery takes patience, watchfulness, attention, waiting… all part of our Advent vocabulary.
A week ago Sunday I had evening Mass at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, Monroe. They as a parish had decided to transfer the tabernacle—where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved—from the side to the center of the sanctuary (where it should be).
They kindly invited me to celebrate a Mass recommitting themselves to making the Holy Eucharist the center of their lives.
In that packed church it was clear those people firmly believed that Jesus comes to them, now, in mystery, in the Mass, in receiving Holy Communion worthily, in His real presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament reserved in the Tabernacle.
It was a grand way to celebrate the last Sunday of the Church year, Christ the King, and to anticipate Advent.
The coming of the Messiah, the Christ, cannot be limited. He is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
He came in history as the Holy Infant of Bethlehem in a manger 2019 years ago!
He comes now in mystery in so many tender, hidden ways—like the Holy Eucharist;
And He will come in majesty at the end of time!
A blessed Advent!