For this glorious solemnity, as often as it comes round, finds three classes of men. The first, and the smallest number, are those who live, in all its plenitude, the life of Jesus who is within them, and aspire incessantly after the increase of this life. The second class of souls is more numerous; they are living, it is true, because Jesus is in them; but they are sick and weakly, because they care not to grow in this divine life; their charity has become cold!1 The rest of men make up the third division, and are they that have no part of this life in them, and are dead; for Christ has said: ‘I am the Life.’ 2
Now, during the season of Advent, our Lord knocks at the door of all men’s hearts, at one time so forcibly that they must needs notice Him; at another, so softly that it requires attention to know that Jesus is asking admission. He comes to ask them if they have room for Him, for He wishes to be born in their house. The house indeed is His, for he built it and preserves it; yet He complains that His own refused to receive Him;3 at least the greater number did. ‘But as many as received Him, He gave them power to be made the sons of God, born not of blood, nor of the flesh, but of God.’ 4
He will be born, then, with more beauty and lustre and might than you have hitherto seen in Him, O ye faithful ones, who hold Him within you as your only treasure, and who have long lived no other life than His, shaping your thoughts and works on the model of His. You will feel the necessity of words to suit and express your love ; such words as He delights to hear you speak to Him. You will find them in the holy liturgy.
You, who have had Him within you without knowing Him. and have possessed Him without relishing; the sweetness of His presence, open your hearts to welcome Him, this time, with more care and love. He repeats His visit of this year with an untiring tenderness; He has forgotten your past slights; He would ‘that all things be new.’ 5 Make room for the divine Infant, for He desires to grow within your soul. The time of His coming is close at hand: let your heart, then, be on the watch ; and lest you should slumber when He arrives, watch and pray, yea, sing. The words of the liturgy are intended also for your use : they speak of darkness, which only God can enlighten; of wounds, which only His mercy can heal; of a faintness, which can be braced only by His divine energy.
- Apoc. ii. 4.
- St. John xiv. 6.
- Ibid. i. 11.
- Ibid. 12, 13.
- Apoc. xxi. 5.