In today’s Office of Readings, St. Bernard speaks of the “three comings of the Lord.” The first was when he came to dwell among us in His incarnation, the second and intermediate coming is in the soul by the spirit and power of His word, and the third is when He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. St. Bernard gives most of his attention to the “middle coming,” which is only possible through the Holy Spirit and the keeping of God’s word. He says, to keep God’s word, you must “let it enter into your very being, let it take possession of your desires and your whole way of life.” He continues, “Feed on goodness, and your soul will delight in its richness. Remember to eat your bread, or your heart will wither away. Fill your soul with richness and strength.”
When reading these words, I am reminded of Jesus’ own words during His temptation in the wilderness, “Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). I am also reminded of the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary who, after giving birth to our Lord and Savior and hearing the testimony of the shepherds, “kept all these words, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Lastly, I think of St. Paul who admonishes us to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly” (Colossians 3:16).
During Advent, the Church, through her Sacred Liturgy, prepares us not only for the coming of Christ at Christmas and on the Judgment Day. She also invites us to make room in our souls for the daily reception of Christ through His word in Sacred Scripture. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “the Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord’s Body [and] She never ceases to present to the faithful the bread of life, taken from the one table of God’s Word and Christ’s Body” (CCC, 103). In order to see just how important the Scriptures are for the Catholic Church, we need to look no further than her liturgy. The truth is that there would be almost nothing left of the Mass and the Divine Office if we tried to remove everything that either consisted of the Scriptures or was inspired by them.
So let us set aside more time this Advent to feeding on the goodness of God’s word, to pondering it in our heart, and allowing it to dwell in us abundantly. Yes, make room in your heart for the coming of Christ by works of penance, but do not neglect the ever-present Advent of Christ through His word. To do this, we need look no further than the Sacred Liturgy.
Come, Lord Jesus. Come and possess our souls through your word and prepare us for a worthy celebration of Christmas and Your coming again in glory on Judgment Day.