Friday, December 11, 2009

Second Sunday

Second Sunday of Advent – 6 December 2009 – The Centuries of Anticipation

Jesus once assured His disciples that “many kings and prophets longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear the things that you hear, and did not hear them.” (Luke 10:24) These words are as true for us as they were for the disciples. We can easily take the Sacraments, Scriptures, Church teachings, and our rich Catholic heritage for granted. We forget that for thousands of years all mankind, especially the Jews, anticipated and longed for the promised Redeemer.

Prophecies of the Messiah are found throughout the Old Testament. These are important for many reasons, such as reassuring us that God is in charge no matter how badly we humans stray from His way. Here are some of the Old Testament prophecies that spoke of Christ:

Toward the end of his life, Moses spoke of “a prophet” that would come after him, whom all Israel should obey (Deuteronomy 18:15-18). The prophet Nathan promised that King David would have a son whose throne would be established forever (2 Samuel 7:12-14). Both these prophecies were partially fulfilled by other prophets and kings descended from David, but only Jesus perfectly fulfilled them both.

As the time of Jesus' coming drew nearer, the prophetic “focus” became sharper. The Holy Spirit spoke extensively through the prophet Isaiah about the coming Messiah: that He would be born of a virgin (Is 7:14), that He would come from the line of David, walk in the power and wisdom of God's Spirit, and govern a worldwide Kingdom of Peace (Is 11:1-14), that He would destroy oppression (Is 16:5), that He would be called from His mother's womb to not only restore Israel but save all nations (Is 49:1-6), and that He would be abused and suffer to redeem mankind (Is 52:13 – 53:12).

Prophecies regarding the Messiah also came to Daniel, who saw a vision of one “like a Son of Man” being brought before the Father to receive everlasting worldwide dominion (Dan 7:13-14), and to Zechariah, who foresaw that the Messiah would come to His people riding a donkey (Zech 9:9-10) – symbolic of His humility and gentleness, and fulfilled on Palm Sunday. Zechariah was also told of One who would be known as The Branch, who would build the Temple and reign over Jerusalem (Zech 6:12-13). The last prophet of the Old Testament, Malachi, spoke of the Messenger of the Covenant who would come to His Temple to purify it, that true worship might be offered there (Mal 3:1).

These are but a few of the prophecies regarding the Messiah that can be found in the Old Testament. It is important to know them because they shed light on Jesus' mission, and further explain what He came to accomplish. They also make clear that human history has always been in God's control; a control that continues to this day.

This Advent, let us study these Scriptures, so we can grow to appreciate the gift that we have been given: Immanuel, the God who dwells in our midst. We do not have to wait and wonder, anticipating the far-off day when the Messiah would be revealed. He has been revealed – at Bethlehem, at Calvary, at the Empty Tomb, and in every Mass we attend. Truly kings and prophets long to see and hear what is freely given to us every week – let's appreciate it.

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