As we begin this solemn season of advent, the Church takes a moment to visualize the coming of Jesus in the manger at Bethlehem. The simplicity, the plain truth of it all speaks to our complex and distracted hearts and calls us to awaken once again that for which we naturally long: union with God.
In this time of greater distraction and pressure does the child come like a thief in the night and wonder if we are ready. It is the child in his simple outreached arms that remind us of the quiet of that Bethlehem night which reflects the manner of the Second Coming. Saint Augustine once wrote: “It is by design that Jesus hid the last days from us- so that we’d be on the look out for him every day of our lives.”
Now at the beginning of this night of holiness we should brace ourselves to listen and watch for the stars in the sky. They can lead us to the stillness of the sacred moment when, like a breath, Christ will come to finish his work; the work he began when took on flesh and dwelled among us.
We have been warned. Centuries of writings by Ambrose and Gregory and Bernard and Augustine have all given us the words: Stay awake! You do not know the time or the day! Be on guard! Paul tells us , we have been ‘ richly endowed with every gift of speech and knowledge’ and that we ‘lack no spiritual gift as we wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We must have courage then and determination to see this to the end in spite of the hurried shopping blitz and consumer panic all around us, we must look through the maze of all that and see the simple child in a manger embracing us, echoing words of Isaiah: “O Lord you are our Father; we are the clay and you are the potter: we are all the works of your hands.”