Updated: Dec 2, 2019
The Prophet Isaiah foretells that the House of the Lord will be made higher than all others. His house will teach all the nations and they will follow Him. The Word of the Lord will judge the nations and will bring peace so that all might walk in the light of the Lord.
Isaiah probably never imagined that the Word of the Lord would come in the form of a baby. Jesus condescends, lowers himself to our level, to take on the lowly flesh of men. This simple but profound act forever changed the way that we relate to God. Not only does the transcendent God of the universe become immanent by taking on the form of a slave, but He assumes the weakness and helplessness of a newborn infant. This baby, the Word incarnate, will bring people of every race and nation to the one, true God. Throughout the world every knee will bend and confess the name of Jesus as Lord and He will save us from our sins.
During Advent, we await the coming of our Savior just as Isaiah awaited the coming of the Word. We prepare to celebrate the Incarnation of the Word in the person of Jesus. We look forward to His appearance with the greatest joy! However, we are also somber. Just as we confess in the creed, the Lord will return to judge all of us both living and dead.
Matthew recounts the words of Jesus, “So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” In the same way we are preparing for Christ to enter the world as a newborn at Christmas, we must also prepare ourselves His return in glory. Whether or not Christ returns in our lifetime, we need to be prepared because our meeting Him is inevitable.
How are we to prepare? Paul tells the Romans to put on the Lord Jesus! Do not give in to the concupiscence of the flesh but rather conduct ourselves as those who have seen a great light. Many of us struggle with the flesh because our passions and our will are not aligned. We want to follow Jesus, but we are still walking in darkness. We contend with lust or gluttony or gossip or attachment to wealth. Some of us are enslaved to entertainment or technology. We spend so much time appeasing our flesh that we forget the value imbued in every person by the love of their Creator. Jesus called us to radical love which is not a mere sentimentality but real love, that is to will the good of others for sake of the other. Our preparation for the coming of our Savior is a call to love one another, not to use them.
How do we prepare for the coming of our Lord? Love God with all your heart, will all your soul and with all your strength. Love others as yourself. All the commandments of God are summed up in these. As St. Robert Bellarmine put it, “On the last day, when the general examination takes place... Charity will be the whole syllabus.”
This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz, saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come, the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it; many peoples shall come and say: "Come, let us climb the LORD's mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths." For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!
Brothers and sisters: You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and lust, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.
Jesus said to his disciples: "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come."