Today's Ignatian Reflection

Saturday of the Second Week in Advent

  1. O come, O come, Emmanuel                 II. O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free

And ransom captive Israel                                Thine own from Satan’s tyranny

That mourns in lonely exile here                       From depths of Hell Thy people save

Until the Son of God appear                            And give them victory o’er the grave

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel                            Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel.                            Shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

III. O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer           IV. O come, Thou Key of David, come,

Our spirits by Thine advent here                                   And open wide our heavenly home;

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night                 Make safe the way that leads on high,

And death’s dark shadows put to flight.                        And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel                            Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel.                            Shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

  1. O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,

Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,

In ancient times did’st give the Law,

In cloud, and majesty and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel.

“O come, O come, Thou Lord of might / Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height / In ancient times did’st give the Law / In cloud, and majesty and awe.”

Peter, James, and John were coming down the mountain upon which they had just witnessed a remarkable sight: the Transfiguration of Jesus. Beside Him appeared Moses and Elijah, and now they asked Jesus—of all the questions they could have asked—when Elijah would come and prepare the way of the Messiah. Imagine their surprise when He said Elijah had already come, especially when they realized He wasn’t talking about the prophet’s appearance on the mountain top just prior. Rather, Jesus was “…speaking to them of John the Baptist.” And so we end the week considering the same man we encountered at the beginning: the controversial cousin of Jesus who, three chapters earlier, was imprisoned and executed by Herod. On Sunday John was telling us to repent of our sins and that one would soon come who would cleanse us of them.

Today, however, Jesus tells us that Elijah—modeled in the person of John the Baptist—also prophesied something else: the suffering and death the Messiah would endure. In other words this final prophet would be the forerunner of the Messiah not only by the words he spoke or the life he lived, but also in the death he died, something the disciples had not until that point considered.

Peter, James, and John were saying, “O come, Elijah!” because they knew Elijah had to come before Emmanuel; we sing “O come, O come Emmanuel!” because we know Elijah has come and, what’s more, we recall in this season that Emmanuel has come, and He has never left us. (Matthew 28:20) This song is sung in our hearts, at every Mass, and He comes to us in the Eucharist; He feeds us with His very self so that our hunger for His final return will never go unsatisfied.

This hymn is, perhaps, the quintessential Advent song, and is filled with ancient references to the Messianic prophecies to which our ancestors looked for hope in the midst of exile and foreign occupation. Our Gospel today reminds us that the Son of Man was born to “…ransom captive Israel” (Jeremiah 31:11, Matthew 20:28), to be the “Day-Spring…” that would “Disperse the gloomy clouds of night…” Emmanuel has come, He remains, and He shall come again; the infant born under a star was slain, and there has been no dawn brighter than His rising at Easter, when “death’s dark shadows” were “put to flight.” As we look ahead to Christmas, Rejoice! Emmanuel has and shall come to thee, and there is no greater gift we could ever hope for.

December 10th, 2016