Revealing the glory of the Lord

By: By Msgr. Stuart Swetland

Second Sunday of Advent, Dec. 7

Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11; Psalm 85:9-10,11-12,13-14; 2 Peter 3:8-14; Mark 1:1-8

Advent is a season of preparation. Last week we were called to be watchful and alert — to awaken to the possibility of a deeper encounter with God; to be “deeply shaken” into recognizing the great dignity that is ours because we mean so much to God.

Today, we are challenged to “prepare the way of the Lord,” “to make straight his paths,” and to eagerly await the coming of the “day of the Lord.”

But for what are we preparing? The prophet Isaiah says that we are preparing for the revelation of the glory of God. In the Christmas season we celebrate the epiphany of God’s glory. Epiphany means “the revealing of what was hidden.” In Jesus, the gradual revelation of the glory of God becomes clear (is made manifest).

When one thinks of the glory of God, one is often drawn to an image of heaven and the divine liturgy: angels and saints singing the divine praises. Of course, the glory of God radiates throughout heaven.

However, Scripture reflects another aspect or manifestation of the glory of God. According to the Gospel of John, the cross of Christ makes God’s glory known, because it reveals the merciful love of God. When Jesus is “lifted up” (cf. John 3:14, John 8:28, John 12:32) on the cross (and when he is “lifted up” in his resurrection and ascension) he shows the world just how much God loves us. Thus, all who have eyes to see are drawn toward him.

The early fathers of the church took this idea one step further. If Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection revealed the glory of God and Jesus himself taught that he “came so we may have life to the full” (John 10:10) then as St. Irenaeus put it “the glory of God is man fully alive.” God became man so that men could become like God.

We became God-like when we became Christ-like. To claim the name Christian is to claim the desire to be another Christ. As he revealed the merciful love of the Father in his day and age, we have the privilege and duty to make known God’s merciful love in our day and age.

Today, the readings call us to remove whatever obstacles stand in the way of us receiving Christ, loving him fully and becoming more like him. Advent prepares us to receive the Babe who is King. Advent calls us to prepare to become like him in all things. In other words, Advent calls us to live life to the full — to live like the King who lays down his life for us all.

A priest of the Diocese of Peoria, Msgr. Stuart Swetland is vice president for Catholic identity and mission at Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.

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