Advent is a time of waiting, of expectation, when we await the arrival of the incarnate Word of God – Jesus, into the world. In doing this, we are re-living the experience of the people of Israel in the Old Testament, who awaited the arrival of the Messiah. In fact, the entire Old Testament has been called a prolonged advent, waiting for the arrival of Him who was promised by “those who were his prophets from of old”.
The Incarnate Word of God did not arrive suddenly in the world without preparation of any kind, but instead, he revealed Himself slowly throughout the ages through Prophets, who pointed towards and prophesied about the coming of the Messiah. Through the experience of having to wait for the Messiah, the people came to see their absolute need for Him, and yearn for His coming to save them. We, too, during this advent season, await with eager longing for the coming of the Messiah into our lives, who alone can bring us salvation.
God began to reveal to us prophecies concerning our future salvation at the beginning, right after the Fall; “I shall put enmity between you and the women, and between your offspring and hers; it will bruise your head and you will strike its heel” (Gen 3:15).
Over time, God made his promises to humankind more precise, saying to Abraham: “All nations on earth will bless themselves by your descendants, because you have obeyed my commands” (Gen 22:18).
Later, the Prophets prophesy about a person, a saviour, with both human and divine characteristics, who will suffer for us. These prophets prepared us for the Messiah when it was written “I can count every one of my bones, while they look on and gloat; they divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing” (Ps 22 17-18). And concerning the divine attributes of the Messiah – “this is the name he has been given, Wonderful-Counsellor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
The more the people of the Old Testament were filled with faith and confidence in the promises revealed by the prophets, the greater was their desire to see these promises realized. This would prepare them to be open to the Word when he came into the world, and to be open to the abundance of graces that the Saviour brought to humanity.
It is important for us too to make this time of advent one of longing for the arrival of the Messiah into our lives, and to prepare for that arrival by listening to what the prophets have to tell us during this Advent season in the liturgy.
Indeed, the last of these prophets to prepare us for the Messiah is John th Baptist, who tells us that he is the one Isaiah prophesied about, saying he is: “the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord” (Jn 1:23).
In this time of Advent, let us listen to the prophecies in the scriptures, and heed the words of the prophets to “ make straight the way of the Lord” in our lives.