The whole progression of Advent is one that has always captured my imagination. I see Advent as a kind of dawning of a new day. Just as the day doesn’t come all at once, so Advent progresses and we see the coming of Jesus ever more gradually as we participate in each day’s Liturgy of the Word. At the same time though, night doesn’t last forever, and the day arrives more quickly than we might be ready for. I think that’s kind of where we are at this sort of late-middle point of Advent.
Today we see some glimmers of light. The prophet Balaam speaks of a star advancing from Jacob and a spear from Israel. This wasn’t terribly good news for Balaam’s people, but it sure is for us. The hope of all the earth was in the somewhat distant future for the people of Israel, and even though in the Gospel that hope was standing right in front of them, the Truth of it all had not yet dawned on the chief priests and elders.
Tomorrow we begin a special part of Advent, marked by reflection on the “O Antiphons” which we famously sing in the hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and which we pray during Evening Prayer each day. The Liturgy is pretty strict during these days and calls for us to focus on the coming of Christ and his manifestation among us in so many wonderful ways.
So the question is, have we been progressing faithfully this Advent? Has the light been made ever brighter in our hearts? Are we progressing toward the dawning of the day, or will it happen all at once and find us unprepared? This is the time to light the lamp if we’ve been keeping it dim. This is the time to wake from our sleep. Our salvation is near at hand.