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Rejoicing Patiently


“We do not preach only one coming of Christ, but a second as well, much more glorious than the first. The first coming was marked by patience; the second will bring the crown of a divine kingdom.” ~ Saint Cyril of Jerusalem

The quote which kicks off today’s Reflection is taken from Saint Cyril of Jerusalem’s essay The Twofold Coming of Christ. It’s a thoroughly provocative read, one which I imagine I will be quoting from regularly throughout this Advent Season. For as we know, the Advent Season truly does possess a duel theme, one in which we anticipate and reflect upon the twofold coming of Christ that Saint Cyril alludes to in the title of his Essay.

“At the first coming,” Saint Cyril explains, “he was wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger. At his second coming he will be clothed in light as in a garment.” He goes on to say that “In the first coming he endured the cross, despising the shame; in the second coming he will be in glory, escorted by an army of angels.”

The Entrance Antiphon chosen for this Tuesday of the First Week of Advent would appear to be taking its cue from Saint Cyril’s vision. Or perhaps it’s the other way around. We are greeted with the words “Behold, the Lord will come, and all his holy ones with him; and on that day there will be a great light.” (Zechariah 14:5, 7). This passage too would seem to bear the characteristics of this duel foreshadowing we see all throughout the Advent Season, proclaiming the arrival of Jesus as both infant and King.

The Advent Season is unique in that it invites us to rejoice while at the same time exhorting us to wait with patience. Of this “vigilant patience” that we are asked to cultivate, Saint John Paul II once remarked “The faithful realize that they are little ones who are poor and in great need of God’s help, and they come together to receive the Messiah who is about to come. He will come in the silence, the humility, the poverty of the crib, and will bring his joy to all who welcomed him with open hearts.”

“Rejoicing” and “patience” are not necessarily two words that you would expect to see working in tandem. The act of rejoicing is unbridled, visceral, unabashed and almost always immediate. Patience on the other hand is more measured, more reserved and exacting. “Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever.” These words from our Psalmist today (Psalm 72) reminds us that we must place our trust in God’s timing, which is always perfect.

I leave you with a passage from James 5:7-8, which proclaims “Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the Earth, being patient with it until it receives the early end the late rains”

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….”You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.”

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