PREPARING FOR THE MESSIAH

During the Advent season, the Church calls for us to reflect on how the faithful Jews of old longed for the coming of the Messiah, and how we celebrate His presence on earth and wait for Him to return in final glory.  To benefit from this theme, it is helpful to reflect upon what we mean when we call Jesus the Messiah.  The title Messiah comes from the Hebrew word for “anointed one,” as the title Christ comes from the Greek word with the same meaning.  In ancient Israel, priests, kings and (at least sometimes) prophets were anointed to indicate divine guidance and power in their calling.  The ancient Jews awaited a final Anointed One who would fulfill all three roles.  He would bring the glory of God back to the Temple and then to all the world, as Ezekiel promised.  He would restore the kingdom of God earth and unite all nations in that glorious realm, as for example, Isaiah, Micah, Zephaniah, and the Psalms described.  And He would proclaim the fullness of the truth, a truth that would, as Jeremiah and Joel promised, allow all people, from least to greatest, to know the Lord and live in the Holy Spirit.

To prepare for the birthday of the Messiah, and to make all of our lives a welcoming of Jesus Christ, it is helpful to be sure that we know Him in these three roles, as priest, king and prophet.  Thus, for example, we receive Christ as the great high priest, who leads us in prayer and forgives our sins, when we set aside time each day in prayer, consecrate Sunday as a day of the Lord, and return to God regularly with repentance of sins, as the sacrament of Reconciliation emphasizes.  We recognize Christ as our King,

who gives us the confidence to resist temptations and bear witness to our faith, when we are attentive to the liturgy and focus on the saints, better people in our lives, and faithful presentations of goodness and truth, rather than letting popular culture gain control over our lives.  And we receive Jesus as the fulfillment of all prophesy when we set aside the time to know Him better in study and reflection on the eternal truths, with the use of solid books, catechetical programs, online presentations and other resources now available.  Then, having received the glory of the Messiah into our lives, we become more able to bring that glory to others, as next week’s article will describe.