1st Saturday in Advent
In his first sermon for Advent St Bernard writes: “Just as [Jesus] once came visibly in the flesh to achieve salvation in the midst of the earth, so he comes every day invisibly in the Spirit to save the souls of every person…”
We can find these two comings suggested in the reading this morning from Isaiah: “No longer will your Teacher hide himself, but with your own eyes, you shall see your Teacher, while from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears, ‘This is the way; walk in it,’ when you would turn to the right or to the left.”
Jesus, the Word made flesh, is the Teacher seen by the eyes of the apostles. He became his teaching supremely in his death and resurrection.
In our own day we experience the “voice” that sounds from “behind,” that is, within us, in the gift of the Spirit, who points to Jesus, who calls to our minds his passion and says ‘This is the way.’
This spiritual coming of Christ gives us both “the bread we need and the water for which we thirst.” He gives us both wisdom for life and a taste for spiritual mysteries.
The Lord guides us by his word to live gracefully within the limits of each day—he numbers every hair on our head, and no detail of our lives is too slight, too material, to be outside his care. This is “the bread we need.”
But he also provides richly “the water for which we thirst” —rivers of living water welling up to eternal life—his Spirit within us, again by calling to mind the words and deeds of Jesus, especially his paschal mystery, makes our hearts thirst more and more for the running streams of his grace.
The coming of the Spirit not only nourishes our hearts, but he makes the larger endeavors of which we’re a part bear fruit as well:
“He will give rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the wheat that the soil produces will be rich and abundant.” Living in harmony with grace our projects and relationships burgeon and refresh the earth in ways beyond anything we could have achieved on our own.
In the Eucharist each day the Lord gives us the bread we need, and the spiritual water for which we thirst in our innermost heart. In these dark and quiet days of advent may wait for him heedfully, and listen closely for his coming that we may have life.