In His world the time is. In our world, the time flows. His is the tide, and ours, the time.
The ancient is tomorrow.
God waits for the perfect moment in our rivers of time, to sink in his fishing line. God waits alongside our imperfect flows of time for the perfect ripple to make all things good. God the shepherd stands by the streams of time to give us a drink of eternity.
And he shall be the one of peace (Micah 5:5a). Or he shall be peace, or he will bring peace. Born of a virgin, in the pre-defined time, the saviour will come. It is not a small, comfortable baby the popular songs chant about– a baby who stays put, to be visited once and again, a baby small and insignificant — no, he is all that. And all the world, the whole of the world is in that promised infant.
As St. Augustine of Hippo writes —
Most high, most excellent, most potent, most omnipotent; most piteous and most just; most hidden and most near; most beauteous and most strong, stable, yet contained of none; unchangeable, yet changing all things; never new, never old; making all things new, yet bringing old age upon the proud and they know it not; always working, yet ever at rest; gathering, yet needing nothing; sustaining, pervading, and protecting; creating, nourishing, and developing; seeking, and yet possessing all things. You love, and burn not; You are jealous, yet free from care; — (Confessiones Liber 1.4)
All heaven and earth cannot contain this little child from Bethlehem, and here we are, singing about jingle bells and driving home for Christmas , and dancing round the ornamented tree like it did not matter. Somehow (and one day I just might finish the thought and write an essay about that) from the Adeste, fideles — be present, ye faithful,– somehow the triumph of God coming into the human history has transformed to another supermarket event. It has become a once a year childhood memory as in I am dreaming of a white Christmas— fond, but harmless, to be forgotten because now we are grown up and know how the things are, and who really is in control of our lives.
Time flows. Time passes irreversibly. We are born, live and die. Time flows.
There are moments that ripple the time-flow, beaver moments, damming the river of the run and scurry. God casts his line, hook, bait and sinker into our everyday.
Bait: Come, look at this cute baby in the manger, isn’t it a lovely sight to see this year? What about coming to check this place out another time? The people seemed ok…
Line: The Body of Christ, broken for us, the Blood of Christ, shed for us as we receive them in the Eucharist. Those reel us into God Himself.
Hook: The Name of Jesus spoken over the baptismal waters, in songs of praise, in prayer that changes the world. The ability to listen and be present in the joys and suffering of those around us just because of the Name of Jesus.
Sinker: The Peace of the Lord, sharing in Him Who Is Peace Himself in a world of shattered pictures, relationships and visions.
This is how Advent works, this is how the Church works ever in waiting for the Second Coming of our Lord. It is not just a moment in time, an annual four week stretch of trying to be good, do charity and speak of homely candlelight. It is a daily (and nightly) breath of God, the trans-temporal creator, in a finite world.
And from Advent, we hear Mary saying: my soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour. Mary’s soul becomes a lens whereby Elizabeth, and John, and the whole world behold the story of salvation. Mary’s soul, by magnifying the Lord, is magnified itself; by rejoicing in the saviour, it is saved. From the Song of Mary, which the Western Church sings every evening, and the Eastern Church, every morning, we learn this:
God does great things: He looks at the lowly, has mercy for those who fear him, lifts up the humble, feeds the hungry and helps His servant nation because He has made a promise in time. This is juxtaposed to God showing His strenth: scattering the proud, dethroning the powerful, sending the rich away empty. The people who hear this _magnification_ — this attention to detail — now hear the choice, not unlike that which Moses puts before the nation in Deuteronomy 4.
Yet difference with the example of Deuteronomy, and all of the rules and regulations of the Old Testament is that we do not get a set of new rules. We get a set of new relationships — God rises to fulfil the rules, he himself becomes the sacrifice to stop sacrifices; the Great becomes lowly, the immortal dies so the mortals may partake of the eternal and live. God has caught us in himself, by himself and now reels us in.
Mary shows us the good example: when carrying baby Jesus in our heart, let us go forth and meet those who also have to announce the coming of our Saviour. By meeting together, we support and encourage one another. By our love (caritas) we draw others into the love (caritate) of God. Thus we will magnify the Lord and truly rejoice in God our Saviour.