“Be very careful. People wearing masks cannot be trusted.” Fezzik the giant, The Princess Bride
Humorous statements often contain a big grain of truth. And so I would like to conclude this most bizarre year in recent memory on a high note by reminding all why we are on this earth in the first place (and it’s not to make ourselves “safe” from germs). We have hopefully been observing Advent over the past four weeks to prepare, interiorly as well as exteriorly, for the coming of the Lamb of God who alone is able to bind up our wounds, but more importantly to remove the stain of our sins.
There is deep symbolism in those four weeks of waiting, anticipating, and watching for the dawn of our salvation. Those weeks may be said to represent the four epochs of human history which heralded the appearance of Christ, the Savior of mankind.
The first week or epoch in Advent is that period beginning with man’s fall from grace up to the great flood, that is, from Adam to Noah. The second epoch is the time from Noah, who was blessed by God, to Abraham (to whom the promise was given). The third epoch begins with Abraham and extends to David, from whose line the Messiah would descend. The fourth epoch was the epoch of kings, from David to Jesus, on whom eternal kingship has been bestowed.
So there are four epochs, the first is the epoch of sin, the second an epoch of division and confusion (symbolized by the tower of Babel), the third epoch being that of the Promise and the Law (given to Moses), while the fourth epoch is the epoch of kingship. This last epoch concluded with the arrival of the Great King who would dispel the darkness and free those captive to sin. His arrival would then mark the turning point of all human history.
But it is not just in history but in each person’s life that we must experience these four epochs, or stages, of growth and development. We all start our journey locked into the disobedience of sin, a stage of rebellion which naturally leads one into the second stage, that of of confusion and alienation (both from God and neighbor). But through the gift of faith, marking the third stage, we begin to discover the necessity and value of God’s law to order our lives. It is this stage which begins to prepare one to meet our King when he finally comes.
Then comes the fourth stage, when the great King in fact reveals himself. It is as though scales fall from our eyes because He is the Light of Truth and that Truth dispels all darkness in those souls who are ardently searching for it. But not everybody can endure this fourth stage, perhaps they have become too comfortable living in the dark. I recently read that the first casualty in any war is the truth. Each man’s life is a war, not only with the world but within himself. Has truth been a casualty of that war? If so, how can we ever hope to meet the One who is Truth personified?
I would venture that very few people have fully embraced that fourth stage, a faithful and enduring union with their King, fully. Most of us are still mired in one of the lower three stages where sin, darkness, confusion prevail; or perhaps, having found some rudimentary faith, we are still unprepared for any total communion with the King. I suspect that most of us self-proclaimed Christians are struggling in that third stage because our limbs are too weak and our eyes too accustomed to the darkness to be able to look directly at that blinding light of Truth.
However, the time is getting short and the dawn is almost upon us. Christ our light is coming whether or not we are ready to enter into his wedding hall. The time is at hand! Forget the cost. Make yourself ready to greet the King when he arrives. That is the message that Advent and Christmas are meant to convey. Yes, we are living in bizarre, and even evil, times. So do not let the strange happenings in our world distract you or entice you away from the more important task at hand. When our King arrives be ready with lighted lamps in hand to welcome Him into your homes and hearts.
A blessed Christmas to all in this Season of Joy!
Fran Pierson +a.m.d.g.