During Advent we are reminded to look to Christ and ask for His presence in our life so that we can become deeper, brighter, and richer by His grace. One of our unfortunate tendencies is to be dismayed by the world around us. We must be soberly aware of both the events and conditions in our world—sober, not drunk with excessive attention on 24/7 news feeds.
In our spiritual lives, too, we ought to be careful not to become consumed with lesser things and end up “majoring in all the minors.” We should be soberly grateful for signs and wonders such as the Shroud of Turin, the miraculous Tilma of Guadalupe, and the approved apparitions of our Lady. Special appreciation was given this past year to Our Lady of Fatima and to how presciently she set forth the struggles of our current age. Our Lady of Akita (Japan) also spoke very accurately to the current travails in the Church.
Here, too, sober gratefulness does not mean being drunk with an excessive preoccupation with the details of apparitions, miracles, and messages. Indeed, our Lady’s most basic message always boils down to this: Listen to my Son and do whatever He tells you. The basic meat and potatoes, the pure wine of the Christian, is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are to look to Him, listen to Him, and judge everything by what He has taught us through His apostles in the New Testament and the teachings of the Church.
St. John of the Cross gives the following advice in a passage we read in this week’s Office of Readings:
Under the ancient law prophets and priests sought from God revelations and visions which indeed they needed, for faith had as yet no firm foundation and the gospel law had not yet been established. Their seeking and God’s responses were necessary. He spoke to them at one time through words and visions and revelations, at another in signs and symbols. But [these] were either partial glimpses of the whole or sure movements toward it.
But now that faith is rooted in Christ, and the law of the gospel has been proclaimed in this time of grace, there is no need to seek him in the former manner, nor for him so to respond. By giving us, as he did, his Son, his only Word, he has in that one Word said everything. There is no need for any further revelation.
This is the true meaning of Paul’s words to the Hebrews when he urged them to abandon their earlier ways of conversing with God, as laid down in the law of Moses, and set their eyes on Christ alone: In the past God spoke to our fathers through the prophets in various ways and manners; but now in our times, the last days, he has spoken to us in his Son. In effect, Paul is saying that God has spoken so completely through his own Word that he chooses to add nothing … he has now said everything in Christ.
Therefore, [to] anyone who wished to question God or to seek some new vision … God could then answer: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; hear him. In my Word I have already said everything. Fix your eyes on him alone for in him I have revealed all and in him you will find more than you could ever ask for or desire (St John of the Cross, the Ascent of Mount Carmel Lib 2, cap. 22).
This, then, is the substantial food of teaching and understanding: Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, ascended and reigning; the Lord of history and of all that is.
This, too, is the truest message of our Lady: Listen to my Son if you seek blessings; if you fail to listen to Him, expect nothing but disaster—one you bring upon yourself.
During Advent this salutary reminder continues: Look to Christ. Let Him be born into your life. Listen to Him and allow Him to grow within you. Although He may come to you as an infant, He seeks to draw you to maturity. Be sober but not dismayed by the roaring and raging of this world. Christ has already conquered.