-Fr. James Conner, OCSO
Bernard speaks of three Advents. “We know His threefold coming: to humankind, into humankind and against humankind. To all, He comes without distinction, but not so into all or against all.” The first is that in which God comes to seek and save that which was lost. The second is that Advent by which Christ is present in our souls now. This is taking place at every moment of our life. Christ is passing by and we are judged by our awareness of his passing. The third Advent is when he comes to take us to himself at the end of time. Meditation on the mystery of the first and third Advents will be made fruitful by works of charity and will lead to our complete transformation in Christ.
Meditation on the first Advent gives us hope of the promise offered. The remembrance of the third reminds us to fear lest by our fault we fail to receive the fulfillment of that promise. However, if we face this third mystery of Advent with humility and sincerity of heart, we have nothing to fear. Bernard, echoing the Apostle Paul’s promise in 1 Corinthians 11:31, writes: “If we judge ourselves, we shall not be judged.” The second Advent is set in between these two terms. It is necessarily a time of anguish, a time of conflict between fear and joy: fear lest we fail to recognize the coming of the Lord at every moment and joy at recognizing his presence and his call to us in love. But in this second Advent, God comes to us and works mysteriously within us in spirit and in truth in order that the fruit of his work may be made manifest in the third Advent when he comes in glory and majesty.
To be continued…