Dear friends in Christ,
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.” This beautiful song – especially associated with the “O Antiphons” of the final days of Advent – surely comes to mind for many of us as we begin this new Liturgical Year and, with it, the Season of Advent.
Advent literally means “coming.” And if something or someone is coming, then someone else is waiting. Waiting for what, though? For the people of the Old Covenant, it was simple: they were waiting for the promised Messiah, the one who would finally liberate Israel from the travails of war, oppression, and division. They were waiting for one like Moses who knew God face to face. They were waiting for a new David who would shepherd God’s chosen people. Of course, when the Messiah did arrive, he did so in a most unexpected way. He chose not a palace but a stable. He desired not a retinue of courtiers but poor shepherd children. His throne was not made with gold or silver but with wood and nails.
My dear friends, we still sing this song because while we acknowledge that the Christ has truly come, we know that this world is still in need of experiencing the peace and reconciliation which he won for us. We join our voices to “captive Israel” because we are captive in so many ways to false notions of success and prosperity. Many are captives to sin, to anxiety and depression, to the lie that we are not worthy of being loved by God. But he does love us, every one of us. And he sent his Son into our world precisely to ransom us and bring us out of our self-imposed exile. This Advent, we ask the Lord to teach us how to rejoice in the first coming of Christ, even as we wait in joyful hope for his coming in glory.
May God be Blessed!
-Father Eric Banecker