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First Sunday of Advent- The Prophets: Our Guides for the Journey

Posted: 29 Nov 2018

Isaiah, as he kept watch by night, beheld the light that knows no evening, the light that of your manifestation, O Christ, which revealed your tender love for us. As he beheld the lights he cried aloud: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and shall bear the Incarnate Word, and all those born on earth shall rejoice exceedingly.” 

Byzantine Compline, Forefeast of the Nativity 

The prophets, receiving the gift of prophecy from the same word, foretold his coming in the flesh, which brought about the union and communion between God and man, ordained by the Father. From the beginning the word of God prophesied that God would be seen by men and would live among them on earth; he would speak with his own creation and be present to it, bringing it salvation and being visible to invisible. 

From a Treatise by St Irenaeus

As we get older we tend to think more about our memories from the past than about our unpredictable future. I know I often do so, and many others do likewise. In the last couple of years I have found myself yearning more and more for the presence and lessons from the prophets. Their stark, austere presence has awakened something in me, especially during advent. I often find myself hungering for the prophetic word. The prophets have become somehow so present, alive, and so real to me that I keep longing for icons of these individual prophets in our chapel. I have great desire, almost a need, to see them visually. I am quite aware it has grown in me a similar esteem for the prophet as the one I have for the four evangelists. I see more and more how well they complement one another. We do have an icon of a prophet in our chapel, that of the prophet Elijah, and it enhances a prayerful presence in our place of worship. How I wish our small chapel could also have the presence of Isaiah, Moses, Jeremiah, and especially King David. But if their icons are missing, we do have their prophetic words in the scriptures to enlighten our faith and nourish our minds and hearts. Advent, somehow, is an evocative time to quietly listen to the prophets, God’s messengers, and take to heart their message. 

Through the message from the prophets, God slowly began preparing the chosen moment in history when he would send his only Son, the “Anointed One,” the Saviour, into the world. From the very beginning God had a plan, and in this plan there is a progression, a gradual revelation of the messiah in the Old Testament. The prophets, the Lord’s true servants, adapted themselves to it, sometimes painfully so, and gave their complete obedience to every aspect of the Lord’s plan. 

During these preparatory weeks before Christmas, we, too, are invited to ponder attentively God’s plan and to listen to the prophetic words with the ears of our hearts, as Saint Benedict counsels us, letting the Lord unfold before our minds and eyes his eternal plan of salvation. We are invited not only to listen to the prophets but to go a step further and make our own their sentiments and message. Our world today longs as much for the Messiah, a Saviour, as it did during the times of the prophets. Isaiah beautifully expresses humanity’s deep longing for redemption, for a personal saviour: “Let justice descend, you heavens, like dew fro above, like gentle rain let the clouds drop it down. Let the earth open and salvation bud forth; let righteousness spring up with them” (Isaiah 45:8)! 

Guided by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Daniel, Micah and all the other ancient prophets, we are encouraged to walk our advent journey along the path marked by these our wise and righteous fathers in the faith. With the prophets as our fellow companions and teachers, we should embark upon what the gospels call the narrow way, learning profound wisdom from the prophetic words until we reach the summit of our Advent journey, Christmas Day, the moment when the glorious vision announced by the prophets becomes manifested to our eyes. On that day, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, we shall “shout with exultation, City of Zion, for great in your midst is the holy one of Israel” (Isaiah 12:6). 

Br. Victor-Antoine D’Avila-Latourette
“Monastry Journey to Christmas”
Copyright 2011
Liguori Publications
Liguori, Missouri 63057