A Note from Fr. Ben 11/22/20:

Advent is a wonderful time of anticipation, joy, and preparation. During this season, the coming of Christ which
we anticipate is two-fold. As the catechism accurately describes it, “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of
Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long
preparation of the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming” (ccc. 524).
Indeed it was a long preparation—roughly four-fifths of the pages in the Bible are part of the Old Testament, and
it is a history which spans thousands of years. Remember that the whole of the Old Testament is oriented towards
the coming of the Messiah and the salvation of God’s people.
During Advent, we find ourselves in solidarity with those countless Israelites who awaited this most sacred and
necessary event in salvation history. To further speak to this solidarity we have with the Israelites, I’m going to
borrow from an Advent reflection by Bishop Barron, who calls to mind an ancient hymn from the 9th century
which is still sung today:
O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appears
Rejoice! Rejoice O Israel! To thee shall come Emmanuel
Note how Israel is described here as “captive Israel.” Nearly all of Jewish history is characterized by periods of
captivity and oppression from worldly powers, and in response, the children of God cry out to Him for liberation.
With the promised and long-awaited Messiah came the greatest liberation of all time: liberation from sin, which is
far deadlier and far more oppressive than any worldly power.
Indeed, Christ has saved us from sin. But until His second coming, it still exists. And we, the children of God, can
still fall under the oppression and enslavement of sin. All of us have experienced this firsthand. And so in this
sense we can find further solidarity with the Israelites—we not only await a great event to take place, just as they
did, but we also know what it feels like to be captive and to long for liberation.
Fortunately for us, through Jesus Christ and the ability to forgive sins which he passed on to his Apostles, we can
find that liberation and experience the freedom of the sons and daughters of God in this life. Which reminds me of
another often-forgotten truth: Advent is also a penitential season. That’s right, it’s not just Lent. I would even
argue that considering what we’ve just covered, going to confession is one of the most Advent-like things you
could do (yes, even more than setting up a nativity scene!). In
taking advantage of the sacrament, we are embracing what Jesus
has already given us in his first coming as we look forward to and
prepare for the second. In the confessional, I’ll be making my own
slight adjustment to suit the season, and intentionally use another
one of the dismissals at the end of the sacrament: “The Lord has
freed you from sin, go in peace.”
Friends, I implore you to embrace our spot in salvation history this
Advent by meditating on the journey of the Israel, and embracing
what Jesus has already given to us in preparation for the fulfillment
of our hope, the glorious coming of our Savior.
Rev. Ben Johnson 


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