“O people of Sion, behold, the Lord will come to save the nations, and the Lord will make the glory of his voice heard in the joy of your heart.”
Given that the season of Advent is meant to be a period of joyful anticipation of the coming of Jesus Christ on Christmas Day, this Sunday’s antiphon is certainly appropriate with its theme about the joy destined for our hearts due to our Lord’s fast-approaching arrival. However, when we read the section of Isaiah 30 from which the antiphon is taken, we can see the context for this joy is connected to the peace God’s people will enjoy after the Final Judgment. The first two Sundays of Advent are intended to help us put special focus on anticipation of Christ’s birth as pointing toward the culmination of God’s plan for us after Christ comes again in power to judge the earth when all of our lives on earth have ended. That is something that should move us to humility and inspire in us a contemplative state of mind. However, Advent often ends up filled with a lot of noise and stress that undermines the purpose of the season. Sometimes the sources of this noise and stress can be avoided while at other times perhaps not. However, no matter how prone to distraction I find myself during the season, I know of no more effective way to reboot my spiritual life than saying to myself the following statement: “My life in this world is going to end at some point.” Once I have said those words, any worldly concerns that had been troubling me suddenly seem smaller and less powerful. Then, within little time, I find myself back in the contemplative state of mind that is appropriate for this period of joyful anticipation. For those of us who persevere to the end, Christ in his Final Judgment, which is pointed to by the occasion of his immanent birth, will indeed bring salvation to our lives and joy to our hearts. Let is spend the rest of this season listening with more focus for his voice.