The prayer of Christians during the Advent Season is, “Come, Lord Jesus, Come!” The call of ancient Israel was ”Adanah Adonia?”, or in English, “How Long, O Lord?” This year, our Fourth Week of Advent is only a few hours long. After that, our time of longing and calling for the Lord Jesus becomes a joyful acknowledgement of His presence already with us.
The longing for Jesus to come close to us should not disappear with the celebration of Christmas; it should intensify. Throughout the history of Israel, during the periods of freedom and the periods of captivity, the longing for the Lord remained constant. The people tried to be “in tune” to God.
In the Gospel passage, Mary could sift through the noises of her day and hear the voice of God. She recognized instinctively that God’s work of salvation was beginning and that she would have a role in bringing it about.
At the birth of Jesus, angels sang out “Glory to God in the highest” as God’s Kingdom took hold in our world. The longed-for redemption and liberation was beginning, but not everyone in Bethlehem recognized it. They remained in the noise of “business as usual.”
In the readings for Christmas, we hear the ache of a people who have suffered endlessly, longing for one who would set them free and establish a kingdom of peace and justice. We also hear the fulfillment of that hope and promise: in Jesus, a savior is born, and the “grace of God has appeared. We are invited to bask in His presence and enjoy a time of prosperity and peace.
The celebration of the Birth of Jesus makes us recognize that His Kingdom calls for our participation. Just as Mary and Joseph had a role to play in bringing about the birth of Jesus; we also have a role in bringing about his Kingdom. Salvation is an on-going process that involves all of God’s People.
Our wishing each other a “Merry Christmas” is just the first step. As we complete our journey to His crib, let us trust that the same grace that enlightened Mary will work in us so that the words of Scripture will be fulfilled in us: Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.”