Of the Father's love begotten,
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He.
Of the things that are and have been,
And that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore.
The mystery of the incarnation is something so perfect in its profundity; and yet we who believe dare to grasp its pure simplicity in the image of the innocent baby resting peacefully in the Virgin’s arms on that first Christmas night. That the Son of God would take on flesh to dwell among men should cause us to drop to our knees in holy fear and weep tears of joy. This same baby of Bethlehem is the One who was born to die the ignominious death on the cross for the sins of the world. It is the incarnation that makes the sacrifice of the cross and our salvation the joyous reality it truly is.
Advent is both the season of incarnation and the season of exaltation, the time when the heavenly curtain is pulled back and we witness the coming of the Savior into the dirty mangers of our hearts. It is the celebration of the sacrament of our salvation, the perfect sign of God’s eternal love manifested in the world. We wait with joyful expectation for the coming of Christmas, even as we look forward to the Second Coming, the final advent when the King of kings and Lord of lords will return to call his people home.
Every word in the Old Testament points forward to the coming of the Messiah into the world and every word in the New Testament points forward to the day when our faith shall be sight and the Bride of Christ will be with the Bridegroom forever. As we breathe in the word that was breathed out in love for us, we experience a sense of joy in this expectant waiting, like a woman anticipating the birth of her child.
There is a profound beauty in the readings of Advent, and we would be wise to meditate on their meaning. In allowing the Advent Scriptures to wash over us, we become keenly aware of how this sacred season calls us to look inward to examine our hearts and our relationship with the Almighty. Advent is not just a time of expectation, but it is also a time of turning our hearts more fully in God's direction. It calls us to repentance and reconciliation, restlessness and rest, renunciation and restoration. It is a time when we come into a deeper and more personal bond with the One who took on flesh so that we could one day rise with Him in the glories of the Kingdom of Heaven.
This Advent devotional reflects on the scriptures of incarnation and exaltation in order to take you on a journey of thoughtful self-reflection. It is meant to draw you more deeply into the mystery of Christ’s coming into the world to help you walk your own inner path toward the season of Christmas. As you celebrate the coming of Christ into your lives during Advent and spend time reflecting on the readings in this devotional, may the light and love that entered our world lead you to the cross in wonder and thanksgiving. May you find joy and discover strength as you walk this wondrous journey to Bethlehem, always holding within your heart the image of the Hill of Calvary and the hope of the Age to come when Christ will return to call his people home!
The devotions that will follow are written in such a way that you can share the truths of your faith with other Christians and even those who are seeking to know Jesus during this holy time. They focus on what is common to our faith while stressing truths that we believe as Catholics. May these words help to unite us in our love for Jesus and lead others to both the lowly manger and the hill of Calvary in reverence and submission, so that the glory of the incarnation and the power of the resurrection may overflow into our lives.
The First Sunday of Advent
Theme for the Week: Longing for Hope and Home
Incarnation – The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. (Isaiah 9:2)
Exaltation – Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
The season of hope and expectation is here. All around us are lights in the darkness, candles in windows and tiny luminaries wrapped around wreaths and Christmas trees. They remind us that in a world filled with hatred and hopelessness, where nations war and children weep, where sickness and sin abound, there is still hope. That hope is found in the little baby of Bethlehem. In him, the light of heaven has burst forth upon our dark and weary world.
The blackest night can be broken by the smallest flicker of light. The light brings a feeling of safety and strength and reminds us what it means to heal and to hope. As a single light can cut through the darkness, the hope of one longing soul can pierce through the despair of this hurting world. As we light the first candle of the Advent wreath, we join with all those throughout the ages who have longed for the coming of Christ. He is the light in our darkness, the hope in our despair. He broke into a world of sin and sorrow to restore our vision of what is to come.
For the one who travels the path of life in the darkness of despondency, each day can be a lonely journey. So many walk this way alone, afraid to share their deepest sorrows with those around them. But we can be a light shining in their darkness. We can bring the radiance of Advent into the shadowy world of hopelessness for each person we meet. When others see the light of Christ shining in us, they will be drawn to the hope that light brings. Let us work this Advent to be a beacon of hope each and every day.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, may I take time this Advent to peer into the radiance of your love as I reflect on those passages that speak of light. May the wisdom of your grace shine in the darkness of this world, and may I strive to bring the light of your love to others today…Amen!
In the fullness of the ages,
Word of God in flesh was born.
God from God, the light of Heaven,
Came to earth on Christmas morn.