Saturday of the Second Week of Advent
The readings for the day can be found here.
The three disciples – Peter, James, and John – have just been witnesses to the miraculous transfiguration of Jesus into a figure cloaked in dazzling white whose face shone like the sun. Then, to top this grandeur, they saw Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus and heard the booming voice of God announce “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him!” Peter was so taken with the moment he wanted to pitch some tents and hang out on the mountaintop for a while. Can you imagine, then, the mix of emotions that filled these men as they began their trip down the mountain with Jesus? I am sure that they were so excited to tell all their buddies about what they had just experienced and must have been devastated when Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone until he had been raised from the dead. I can just hear them saying “C’mon, man . . . “ The disciples understood from Malachi that Elijah’s coming would precede the final coming of the Savior. They were confused, though, by Jesus’ comment about being raised from the dead. Jesus affirms to them that Elijah will appear at the end time, but hints at this, his first coming, which was announced by John the Baptist in the spirit of Elijah.
The quiet of Advent is a time to prepare our hearts by considering the three comings of Christ; his coming as a baby in Bethlehem, his coming into our hearts daily, and his final coming at the end of all times. During this season we hear the story of his first coming captured in word and song but perhaps for you, like me, it is easy to transpose the lowliness, filth, and fragility of the manger into an idyllic scene. His first Advent was not among the rich and powerful, it was among the poor and hungry, the marginalized and powerless. His first coming is our calling to serve those at the fringes of society. To grasp the mystery of the manger, we must claim and experience His daily Advent in our lives. We, like Peter, are quick to want to set up camp on the mountaintop, but we fail to call Jesus into the valleys of our lives. Jesus promises to be there – “I stand at the door and knock” (Rev 3:20) – we only need to open that door. As we wait in anticipation of the final Advent, we must do so surrendering our claim on power, privilege, and prestige and accepting that we are called not only to preach Christ but to be Christ in the world.
Mark Reinking is chairman of the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training at SLU.