In the Office of Readings today, the prophet Isaiah warns of the impending judgment on God’s people because "The land is full of idols; they worship the works of their hands.” Therefore a day is coming when “The haughty eyes of man will be lowered, the arrogance of men will be abased, and the Lord alone will be exalted.” But what shall happen when the Lord alone is exalted? What can we expect when the one true God is given the reverence and worship that is due to Him?
We learn from our reading and responsory for Morning Prayer that when “tribute is brought to him, and he receives the people’s homage,” the light of God will come and the Lord will dawn on His people in radiant beauty. “From the root of Jesse a flower will blossom [and] the glory of the Lord will fill the earth, and all creation shall see the saving power of God” (Antiphon, Canticle of Zechariah). This is the promise! While we are a sinful people prone to wander, when we return to the Lord and allow Him to rule and reign in our lives, He will “help us in our weakness and free us from sin” (Concluding Prayer).
While it is a great a terrible thing to contemplate the judgment of God, we are reminded that for those who are poor and humble, the Lord is a good shepherd who says, “The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal” (Reading, Midafternoon Prayer). For those who know the depths of their need, the longing for the Advent of Christ is full of hope. It is when we betray the virtue of religion and no longer give tribute and homage to God that we ought to tremble at the thought of God’s coming. In other words, it is not our poverty, but our pride, that warrants God’s judgment. It is not our weakness, but our arrogance, that incites the anger of the Lord.
Therefore, as we continue in these first days of Advent, if we are proud, let us ask the Lord to bring us low and grant us true humility while we still have time. But if we are tempted to despair of the depths of our need, let us not be deterred by our poverty and weakness, but instead see them as the very condition for receiving the gift of our salvation. To end, may we find consolation in the words of St Gregory Nazianzen, “He who makes rich is made poor; he takes on the poverty of my flesh, that I may gain the riches of his divinity. He who is full is made empty; he is emptied for a brief space of his glory, that I may share in his fullness" (Second Reading, Office of Readings).