The Incarnation: O Come, Divine Messiah!

How can we joyfully prepare for God Incarnate amidst a dark and sinful world?

Prepare for God Incarnate this Advent season! Below is the second of three blog posts on the Incarnation. Read the first installment by clicking the link below, and check back for the third installment to be published during the fourth week of Advent!

The Incarnation: God's Face

O Come, Divine Messiah!

I tend to associate periods of my life with whatever music was stuck in my head at the time. During my year as a Dominican novice in San Francisco, that music happened to be the Advent hymn “O Come, Divine Messiah.” I think I was initially drawn by the bouncy, upbeat melody, but I found the first part of the refrain striking as well: 

“Dear Savior, haste! Come, come to earth. Dispel the night and show your face, and bid us hail the dawn of grace.” 

I can remember singing these words during my first Advent as a Dominican, to the accompaniment of my guitar, and perhaps the growing vexation of my fellow novices, while relaxing in Bodega Bay (home of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds), with its cool, misty weather and its rugged shoreline.

These words, and the melody that goes with them, seem to capture well the spirit of the Advent season, and indeed of our entire earthly pilgrimage. We live in a world plagued by the darkness of human sinfulness. The Church has always clearly proclaimed that this world of care and sorrow is not our ultimate destination, and therefore not really our home. As St. Paul tells us, our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), with the angels and the saints and the Triune God. In the sacrament of Baptism, we are granted full citizenship into this heavenly homeland. Compared to modern nation-states, the immigration process for heaven is really quite simple!

The Adoration of the Kings by Carlo Dolci

Since our homeland is elsewhere, we wait here with patience until we can enter into that blissful, ineffable Light which is God Himself. But that doesn’t mean that our pilgrimage here on earth should be constant misery. Rather, the Light that we shall one day dwell in for all eternity, dwells already in our souls through the mystery of sanctifying grace. As we read at the beginning of the Gospel of John: “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5). So, in a certain sense, that which we wait for, or rather He whom we wait for, is already present within us.

So, although we do indeed live in a world of darkness, with wars, rumors of wars, polarization, inflation of the money supply, disrupted global supply chains, and in general more cares and anxieties than you can shake a stick at, we don’t need to worry. We have the Light within us, and the Light is Christ. And one day, that Light will not only be planted within our hearts as a “down payment” (2 Cor. 1:22, Eph. 1:14), but will completely inundate a new creation with its splendor.

This season of Advent is a great time to reconnect with that Light inside of us through prayer and self-denial, and to await in joyful hope that day in which that same Light will banish all darkness forever. O Come, Divine Messiah!

Br. Athanasius Thompson, O.P. | Meet the Brothers in Formation HERE