1 Advent, December 3
Isa. 64:1-9 • Ps. 80:1-7, 16-18 • 1 Cor. 1:3-9 • Mark 13:24-37
“And when [Jesus] came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, ‘Thou are my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased’” (Mark 1:10-11). Because the Son was in the beginning with God, and because this beginning is before time and forever, the Word spoken from the rent heavens concerning the Son is an eternal Word. The heavens cannot be shut and the Word cannot be muted. “The Father spoke one Word, which was His Son, and this Word He always speaks in eternal silence, and in silence it must be heard by the soul,” St. John of the Cross wrote in Maxims and Counsels. “For God alone my soul in silence waits; from him comes my salvation” (Ps. 62:1).
Faith is a posture of waiting. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, but never an assurance that blunts the deep yearnings of hope. Faith may have consolations, but these consolations are a stimulus to habitual longing. Faith hopes that the God who has arrived in his Word will yet come, will come moment by moment, until all things reach their proper end in the vision of God, until God is all in all. Faith imagines cosmic signs that announce transcendent wonder and power. God will open heaven, shake mountains, darken the sun, and scatter stars on the face of the earth (Isa. 64:1-2; Mark 13:24-25). God is coming from beyond all knowing, coming to those who wait, coming to those who seek to do right and are honest about having done wrong. Faith waits for a love that exposes the uncleanness of our lives, the filth that festered in the soul, the frailty at the heart of mortal being, the wind that sweeps us away (Isa. 64:6).
The God who has come and is coming in his Word is triune love. God hates nothing he has made, and so the soul’s purgation in the presence of God is the soul’s true healing. The judgment sought in faith is not unending wrath against the world, but kindled flame in every soul. “Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved” (Ps. 80:19).
The espousal love of Christ for the Church and every member of the church is a complete self-offering. Christ gives “All that I am and all that I have” (marriage rite). He loves the church to the end, which is to say that he loves without end. So loving and so giving, every moment is the moment of his arrival. Every moment he is near, at the very gate (Mark 13:29). His presence invades and burns the brushwood of sin, ever creating ever a new being in Christ. The grace of God given in Christ comes in signs and wonders, and in hidden mysteries strewn upon land and sea, in the depths and upon the heights. God is and is coming in the wonder of a transparent universe.
Jesus is God with us. And yet he awakens and inflames our deepest desires. Although in some sense utterly filled with the fullness of Christ, the soul persists in a state of emptiness. Indeed, this emptiness deepens and grows as we await “the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:7). Enriched in every way, there is yet an infinite depth of God to know and feel, to know by not knowing. Every moment is a vigil. And hope does not disappoint us.
Look It Up
Read Isaiah 64:4.
Think About It
Waiting for God is his arrival.