Friday, November 30, 2007

Come, Lord Jesus!

The ancient cry of Israel, our elder brothers (and sisters), as the late Pope John Paul II called the Jewish community, has been for the fulfillment of the Holy Covenant.

We Christians believe that the fulfillment of the Law of Moses and the Prophets is in the coming and person of Jesus of Nazareth whom we call Messiah (anointed) and Lord.

And yet, not in all its fullness!
An Orthodox Jewish man praying at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem

We await the Lord's return in glory. And, so, how do we do this?

This Advent is an opportunity to grow deeper in our relationship with the Lord -- by focusing on the Scrptures of the Old Covenant that we hear proclaimed daily at Mass, and particularly at the Sunday Eucharst.

During Advent we join as members of the entire Church of God and cry, "Come, Lord Jesus!" The ancient cry of the Church, even from apostolic times in the Aramaic of the Apostles and early disciples of Jesus, is Marana tha! (Come, Lord!).

St. Francis of Assisi taught his friars that we should prepare for the coming of the Lord at Christmas, the great festival of the Incarnation, by fasting from All Saints' Day (1 November) all the way through Christmas Eve. It's in our Rule of 1223 how the friars are to prepare. While we Franciscan friars are not required to maintain a strict fast, we are encouraged to prayerfully and physically prepare for the celebration of the Messiah's birthday.

Like our elder brothers and sisters in the faith, the Jewish people, we pray the psalms and listen attentively to the Word of God, those ancient prophecies from so long ago, believing that this very Word of God is active and living. Unlike our Jewish kin, though, we eagerly anticipate the return of the Messiah!

Icon of Our Lady of the Sign (cf. Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23)

The way that St. Francis called us friars minor, and all in the Franciscan family, to celebrate this Season of Advent is rather countercultural. When so much of our culture wants more and sees the "holiday season" as more and more about profit, sales, being financially solvent (e.g. "Black Friday") -- and advertisements (especially aimed at children) are about more and more toys, electronic gadgets and the like, St. Francis calls his brothers to fast!

Granted, Advent in the Roman Church is not penitential like Lent is. Still, it is an opportunity laden with all kinds of ways to grow in our relationship with the Lord. It is an opportunity . . . if we take it!

So, how about sitting down with the Bible, refrain from TV, computer games, text messaging and the like, and carefully listen and read the prophecies of ancient Israel. You can find their references in your parish's Missalette; sometimes even in your parish bulletin. That the Scritpurre passages are fulfilled in Jesus Christ is certain; still, we await his return in glory, when his Word will be completely fulfilled.

As the priest says after we pray the Lord's Prayer at Mass, ". . . as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ!" Amen. Come, Lord Jesus (cf. Revelation 22: 20b). Marana tha! (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:22b)

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