Monday, December 22, 2014

Advent Weekday: December 22

2 Samuel 7:1-16
Psalm 89
Luke 1:67-79

REFLECTION: “O Rex Gentium”

Yet another O antiphon greets us today, this one known as "O Rex Gentium":

O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from the dust.

In our Gospel reading today, we hear the words of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, in which he gives praise to God and speaks of John's destiny... to pave the way for the Messiah.

From the moment of the fall, salvation was promised. Our fallen race, formed from the elements which make up the earth - carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, etc..., may have lost its initial innocence, but even on that day of darkness, a future Savior was promised to us. You see, the root of the Gospel is found even in Genesis!

Throughout Scripture, prophets and sages speak of the coming of the Messiah. Sometimes they speak through direct prophecy, at other times the Law, handed down by God and applied by the leaders of the Israelites, paints shadow-pictures of redemption for us. Sacrifices, manners of living, holiness, purity... all of them are spoken of in the Old Testament; and all foreshadow the coming Christ just as much as they speak to the needs of the Israelites in their own time.

Today, with John born, the final prophet of the Old Covenant has appeared... and Zechariah, while praising God, is giving - essentially - marching orders to him.

These beautiful words should also give us pause to consider how we interface with the world. Do we seek the salvation of others? Do we seek to reflect the glory, truth, peace, and hope of the Gospel day by day as we encounter others? Are we concerned with the eternal salvation of all, and not just a lessening of earthly burdens?

As Christians, we can run the risk of being 'so heavenly minded as to be of no earthly good', but the converse is true. We must remain faithful to the message of salvation... the very challenging message of salvation... while, at the same time, being concerned with the situation of our world today.

Over the first few weeks of Advent, we heard much about showing concern for others, which is good, and right, and just. Some of it has been driven by the Scriptures in our readings day by day. Some of it has been driven by world events. Social justice and a concern for the needs of others is vitally important to our faith... it is a central tenant of it. But it is not the end-all-be-all of Christianity. There is still a need for self-discipline, conformity to God's expectations, and fidelity to revealed truth that is equally vital as we express our faith.

If we abandon a balanced approach to our faith, we are no longer fulfilling or ambassadorial responsibilities to our Sovereign, the King of the Nations. We will no longer effectively serve as agents of his will - to bring people together under the mantle of Christ for salvation. We must never abandon our faithfulness to the wholeness of the Gospel... we must constantly strive to live lives of robust faith.