Sunday, December 8, 2013

2nd Sunday of Advent

This meditation on the 1st Sunday of Advent was written by Fr. Sebastian Bullough, O.P. (1919-1967), noted biblical scholar and professor at Cambridge in England.  It was published in The Tablet on the 1st Sunday of Advent in 1954.  It was reissued, along with the his other Advent meditations for that year, by Blackfriars Publications as a small booklet in 1955.

December 4, 1954


II. People of Sion, Behold


O people of Sion,

Behold thy Lord cometh

To save all the world.
O joy of thy heart
At the sound of his voice,
The voice of his glory.

THIS is the Introit of the second Sunday of Advent. It is not entirely from Isaias 30, as the Missal at first sight suggests: the first stanza is not in fact a quotation at all, but the thought and diction are in the manner of Isaias, and are the authentic thought and diction of Advent.
The call is to Sion, the faithful people, announcing that Sion's own Lord, the God of the faithful, is indeed coming to save not only Sion, but all the world. And this call is to faithful Sion a joy. Ad salvandas gentes I have deliberately translated "to save all the world." For the gentes or gentiles, the nations, the goyim of the Hebrews represented to the faithful people of Judah all those myriads of humanity who "knew not God," who knew not how to worship the Lord of all, as they did by his merciful revelation: "to you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given." Gradually, as the people of God became trained in the idea of worship, they became accustomed to the notion that their own God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was not merely the true God, far superior to the false gods of the nations, but was the true God of those nations also, whom the nations should equally worship. Gradually they began to realize that the ultimate fulfilment of their hopes must be in the worship of their own true God, the Lord, by all those nations, by the whole world. It was in the eighth century B.C. that the prophets Micheas (Micah) and Isaias simultaneously proclaimed this vision (Mic. 4 and Is. 2):

And it shall be at the end of the days, That the mountain of the House of the Lord Shall be established at the head of the mountains And be raised up above the hills.  And unto it peoples shall flow, And many nations shall go and shall say, 'Come, let us go up into the Lord's mountain, And to the House of the God of Jacob, And he shall teach us of his ways, And we will walk in his paths; For from Sion there cometh forth guidance, And the word of tile Lord from Jerusalem.'

The dream began its fulfillment when Our Lord said to the Samaritan woman that "the hour cometh, when you shall neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem adore the Father; the hour cometh, and now is, when the true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth." Sion, the faithful people, were witnessing the day when the world, "the Israel of God," would come to adore, not on this or that mountain, but in spirit ; when the world would flow to him, because he had come to save the world.

O joy of thy heart at the sound of his voice: Sion, symbol of all believers, of all the faithful, Sion, "the friend of the bridegroom, rejoiceth with joy because of the bridegroom's voice." "The voice of my beloved: behold he cometh, leaping upon the mountains, skipping over the hills." "O joy of the heart at the sound of his voice." Sion, the faithful, is glad, not only because he comes to her—and has she not had him always?—but because he comes to the world.

The faithful rejoice because the voice of him they know and love so well is to be heard by the world who knew him not, and had not yet learnt to love him. The joy of sharing joy. Love of God turned to love of neighbor. The Christian, long schooled in the love and service of God, has this desire in his heart,that those who know not this service should learn to share it with him. Jesus, convert England; Jesus convert the world. What does this mean, but the desire that all men, the nations, the goyim, should come to share our treasure? Sometimes we forget the treasure of our faith, the knowledge and understanding of Christ and his Coming, his Advent. And sometimes we forget that we "carry this treasure in fragile vessels" and forget to cherish it, to take heed lest the clay vessel of human frailty be broken and precious liquor lost. Si scires donum Dei: didst thou but know God's gift to thee!

The more we understand the gift, the more we want all men to share it. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself." And this was the manner of his Coming: he came to die for the world. Advent makes us think of his gift, to us and to all the world, to "as many as received him, the power to be made the sons of God." "This my joy therefore is fulfilled."