Advent: Come Lord Jesus

 

The Bible ends with a poignant verse.

Come Lord Jesus, cries in a voice that resounds in the heart of every Christian.

Two thousand years ago, the conquered children of Israel looked forward to Him, even though they didn’t fully understand Who He was, and they certainly misunderstood what He would do.

The prophecies of the Christ begin in Genesis when God tells the serpent He will set enmity between the serpent and the Woman, that she would crush his head, and he would strike at her heel. This was not, note, a prophecy of Eve’s life, but of Mary, the New Eve whose quiet birth, unmarked as it was by the larger world, was the door opening on our salvation.

With Mary’s Immaculate Conception, the primal hope of the garden before the fall reawakened in human existence. It was given back to us as a free and totally unmerited gift by God. It set the stage for the coming of His Son, the long hoped-for Messiah.

Prophecies of Jesus began at the beginning, in the Garden, and are woven throughout the many thousands of years of history that tell the tales of His family in the book we call the Old Testament. It is the story of God, raising up a people by first calling one man to leave his home and go out into the wilderness.

It began, as these things always do, with a family; in Abraham’s case, a troubled and often sinful family that nevertheless trusted God. Not everything Abraham did was right, but he believed the Lord’s promises, and Scripture tells us that God “reckoned that to him as righteousness.”

There is a message in this for all of us. That message is simply that we need to trust God and follow Him without placing the unreachable burden of perfection on ourselves. Righteousness is found in trying to do God’s will and trusting our lives and our salvation to His mercy. Whatever we lack in ourselves and our efforts, He will supply. All we need to do is trust Him and do our best.

But how does God supply the lacks? How does He reach across the unfathomable gulf between our finiteness and His infinite transcendence? He did it by doing the unthinkable, by taking on human flesh, being born of a young woman and living, suffering and dying as one of us. Jesus was foretold over and over again throughout the Old Testament, but, as Steve Jobs famously said, it’s impossible to connect the dots going forward; you can only connect them looking back.

In the case of the many prophecies of Jesus the Christ, the prophecies of His second coming are intertwined with those of His first coming. The triumphant Lord of all history is foretold alongside the Suffering Servant of Calvary. Connecting those dots going forward was as confounding to the people of that day as connecting the dots of the Second Coming are to us. Theories and theology abound, and all of them are, to a great extent, educated guesses.

People of Jesus’ day skipped over the Suffering Servant prophecies and misinterpreted the salvation prophecies to weave together an interpretation of a warrior king who would make the nation of Israel into the dominant world power. They tried to connect the dots going forward and came up with a political interpretation which, while it comforted them in their sufferings as a conquered people who occupied the bottom rung on a significant trade route for the Roman Empire — The trade route mattered to the Romans. The people who lived there, not so much. — was wildly inaccurate.

They took comfort in the promised messiah of their own interpreting who would place his foot on the back of the Roman neck and make the Israelites the rulers of the world. Although this inaccurate interpretation comforted them in their daily problems, it led them into the mistake of missing the real Messiah when He actually came to them.

Nothing in their grandiose imaginings came close to the lowly carpenter’s son, born of a virgin in a stable and then forced to flee into exile soon afterwards. They were unprepared for parables and stories urging them to love and care for one another and talking about a Kingdom that would grow like a tiny mustard seed or the leaven in bread into something they could not fathom.

The idea that the Messiah would be executed like a common criminal and then rise from the dead only to leave the whole enterprise of Kingdom building in the hands of 12 men chosen from ordinary fishermen and tax collectors made no sense according to the false interpretation they had believed for so long.

And so the cornerstone of the new Kingdom became the stumbling block for God’s chosen ones. They, the apple of God’s eye, the ones from whom salvation comes, turned aside from their own salvation while the prostitutes and sinners, the rabble and riff-raff of outsiders, walked right in.

Advent is the season we set aside to consider these things. We know about the first coming of Christ. The dots are in our past, where we can see the pathway they form with clarity. We have the Church to explain these things to us, and we have 2,000 years of Christian teaching to make them clear.

So long as we confine our Advent meditations to mulling over the First Coming of Christ and think about our personal piety and our need for repentance and conversion, we are on fairly solid ground. We know what is expected of us as His followers. We know the story of God made man for our salvation.

But we are not at the end of the story. We still await the fulfillment of the prophecies. We are somewhere along the long row of dots that connect the planting of the mustard seed and the final harvest. We are, all of us, awaiting the day when He comes again.

Perhaps more to the point, we are traveling along our own road of life, journeying from birth to grave. We know — know — that our end of time is always imminent. One day our souls will be required of us, and none of us knows the day or the hour that will happen. That will be our end of time, when we go to Him, even if He has not yet returned to us.

Advent is the prophetic pot, simmering. It is a few weeks set aside for us to contemplate the mystery and the majesty of Christ coming. We have the history of His First Coming and the probably seriously misunderstood promises of His Second Coming, all intertwined with the certainty of our departing and going to Him.

We can’t — any of us — connect the dots looking forward. But we don’t have to. All we have to do is follow in the footsteps of Abraham, or Mary or Stephen or Priscilla or Paul or the woman with the hemorrhage or the blind man who would not deny Him and was put out of the Temple for his fealty. All we have to do is just believe Him and follow Him and trust that, even if the dots don’t connect in meaningful ways for us looking forward, they will be form a pattern of salvation when we look back.

Advent is a good great time to consecrate however much of our lives we have left to His Mercy. Trust and obey the old hymn says. There is no other way to be happy in Jesus. 

Truer words were never spoken.

Spend a few minutes this advent contemplating the dots going forward into your eternity as well as those going back to the Immaculate Conception and to the stable. Are we living in the End Times? Perhaps. But in truth, it doesn’t much matter if we are.

Each and every one of us is living in his or her “end times” every single day. There is absolutely nothing to fear in this if you trust and obey. God’s mercy, which was poured out on all humanity from the wounded side of Jesus, is greater than our weakness, stronger than our failures, more loving than all our fears.

Just put your hand in His and let Him lead you Home. There is no other way.

The Malarky About St Malachy

But about that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Jesus Christ

Your personal end of time is coming right at you.

Maybe that’s why people are so fascinated with any “end of time” prophecy they hear about. They know that their end of time will occur on that unknown but absolutely certain day when they die. They’d rather not have to face that day alone. They want the whole wide world to go with them.

My advice to people is to stop worrying about end of time prophecies and make sure that you are right with God today and every day. No end of time prophecy will be accurate. Jesus said so. He told us that no one knows the day or the hour. If you believe Jesus, then believe that. No. One. Knows.

The latest end of time babble centers around the supposed prophecies of St Malachy. Supposedly, St Malachy made a prophecy almost 1,000 years ago in which he detailed every pope up until now. He further said that “the last pope” would be — you guessed it — the one we just elected. This supposed prophesy is enough to send chills of delight up and down the spines of the oogidy-boogidy crowd. It also sets the typing fingers working on every pundit who’s looking for a story.

St Malachy was a real person and he is a real saint. But these so-called prophecies are, like every other end-of-time, the-anti-christ-is-coming fad we latch onto, malarky. 

We have enough problems — real ones — to deal with as Christians. Let’s get to work on them.

Here’s a brief summary of the life of St Malachy from The Catholic Encyclopedia. Notice that it says the real St Malachy had the “gift of prophecy.” I don’t know what the means exactly, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean soothsayer.

St. Malachy, whose family name was O’Morgair, was born in Armagh n 1094. St. Bernard describes him as of noble birth.

He was baptized Maelmhaedhoc (a name which has been Latinized as Malachy) and was trained under Imhar O’Hagan, subsequently Armagh. After a long course of studies/ by St. Cellach (Celsus) in 1119. In order to perfect himself in sacred liturgy and theology, he proceeded to Lismore, where he spent nearly two years under St. Malchus. He was then chosen Abbot of Bangor, in 1123. A year later, he was consecrated Bishop of Connor, and, in 1132, he was promoted to Armagh. St. Bernard gives us many interesting anecdotes regarding St. Malachy, and highly praises his zeal for religion both in Connor and Armagh. In 1127 he paid a second visit to Lismore and acted for a time as confessor to Cormac MacCarthy, Prince of Desmond. While Bishop, he continued to reside at Bangor, and when some of the native princes sacked Connor, he brought the Bangor monks to Iveragh, County Kerry, where they were welcomed by King Cormac. On the death of St. Celsus 1129, St. Malachy was appointed Archbishop of Armagh in 1132, which dignity he accepted with great reluctance. Owing to intrigues, he was unable to take possession of his see for two years; even then he had to purchase the Bachal Isu (Staff of Jesus) from Niall, the usurping lay primate.

During three years at Armagh, as St. Bernard writes, St. Malachy restored the discipline of the Church, grown lax during the intruded rule of a series of lay-abbots, and had the Roman Liturgy adopted.

St. Bernard continues: Having extirpated barbarism and re-established Christian morals, seeing all things tranquil he began to think of his own peace. He therefore resigned Armagh, in 1138, and returned to Connor, dividing the see into Down and Connor, retaining the former. He founded a priory of Austin Canons at Downpatrick, and was unceasing in his episcopal labours.

Early in 1139 he journeyed to Rome, Scotland, England,and France, visiting St. Bernard at Clairvaux. He petitioned Pope Innocent for palliums for the Sees of Armagh and Cashel, and was appointed legate for Ireland. On his return visit to Clairvaux he obtained five monks for a foundation in Ireland, under Christian, an Irishman, as superior: thus arose the great Abbey of Mellifont in 1142. St. Malachy set out on a second journey to Rome in 1148, but on arriving at Clairvaux he fell sick, and died in the arms of St. Bernard, on 2 November. Numerous miracles are recorded of him, and he was also endowed with the gift prophecy. St. Malachy was canonized by Pope Clement (III) on 6 July, 1199, and his feast is celebrated on 3 November.Here from The Bible Probe, is a short list of some of St Malachy’s “prophecies” about “the last pope.” This stuff has people who enjoy speculation about “the end days” enthralled. But from what I see here, you could make anybody fit these prophecies, including me, my Aunt Mattie and my cat. All we’d have to do is be elected pope, then you could rummage around in our lives and situations for something that might be stretched to the point that we could claim it “fulfilled” the “prophecy.”

St Malachy’s Prophecies – The Last 10 Popes The Burning Fire. PIUS X. 1903-1914. This Pope showed a burning passion for spiritual renewal in the Church./p> <Religion Laid Waste (Religio Depopulata). BENEDICT XV. 1914-1922. Unfortunately, this was true.  During this Pope’s reign saw Communism move into Russia where religious life was laid waste, and World War I with the death of millions of Christians who were carnage in Flanders Field and elsewhere. Unshaken Faith. >PIUS XI. 1922-1939. This Pope faced tremendous pressure from fascist and sinister powers in Germany and Italy, but he was an outspoken critic of Communism and Fascism which enraged Hitler. An Angelic Shepherd. PIUS XII. 1939-1958. This Pope had an affinity for the spiritual world and received visions which have not been made public. Peter Bander says Pius XII “has emerged as one of the great Popes of all time,” and he “was in the truest sense of the word an Angelic Pastor to the flock…” Pastor and Mariner. JOHN XXIII. 1958-1963. ” Pastor et Nauta” or “Pastor and sailor”. John was a pastor to the world, much beloved, and the Patriarch of Venice. The connection to “mariner” is thus remarkable. According to Peter Bander in The Prophecies of Malachy (TAN Books and Publisher, 1969 during the conclave which was to elect John XXIII in 1958, a certain Cardinal from the United States, (Cardinal Spellman of New York) evidently having taken Malachy’s forecast that the next pope would be “pastor and mariner” literally, rented a boat, filled it with sheep and sailed up and down the Tiber.6.  Flower of Flowers. “Flos Florum” AUL VI. 1963-1978. Paul’s coat-of-arms depicts three fleurs-de-lis, corresponding to Malachy’s prophecy. His coat of arms included three fleurs-de-lis (iris blossoms).  At the popular and controversial site of Garabandal in Spain, a seer named Conchita Gonzalez once noted: “The Blessed Virgin said in 1962 that there will only be two more popes after Paul VI.” Of the Half Moon. “De Medietate Lanae,” or “from the half moon” JOHN PAUL I. 1978-1978. John Paul I was elected Pope on August 26, 1978, when there was a half moon. He reigned 33 days, that is, about one month, when he died, although many think he was murdered. He was the 109th Pope – is “De Medietate Lunae” (Of the Half Moon). The corresponding pope was John Paul I (1978-78), who was born in the diocese of Belluno (beautiful moon) and was baptized Albino Luciani which means white light, such as that given off by the half-moon in Malachy s prophecy. He became pope on August 26, 1978, when the moon appeared exactly half full. It was in its waning phase. He died the following month, soon after an eclipse of the moon. The Labor of the Son. “De Medietate Lunae” JOHN PAUL II. 1978-2005  Amazingly, Pope John Paul II was the only pope who was both born the day of an eclipse of the sun, and entombed the day the sun was eclipsed. The Glory of the Olive. The Order of St. Benedict has said this Pope will come from their order. It is interesting that Jesus gave his apocalyptic prophecy about the end of time from the Mount of Olives.    PETER THE ROMAN - The 112th prophesy states: “In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Petrus Romanus, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations; after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people. The End.” The last pope may just cut Catholics loose from unity and the papacy, causing total disruption and confusion. See Saint Francis of Assissi’s 13th century prophecy below.  It is believed the next pope will be the last pope.


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