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Preparation for the Coming of

The Kingdom of God

Lani Jo Leigh

In traditional Christianity, the Old Testament is significant in that through the Law, the Prophets, and the history of Israel, a profound system of oracles and prophecies is built symbolically foreshadowing the coming of Christ. The Old Testament period was one of anticipation. God was Sovereign over all His creatures, but His people sensed that the Kingdom had not yet come and would only be truly inaugurated by the coronation of a Davidic King or by the glorious descent of the Celestial Son of Man. Prophets, such as Isaiah, also testified to the One who would come as a Suffering Servant, ushering in a Kingdom with personal liberation, but the majority of the Jews looked for a temporal king who would bring liberation from political, economic and social oppressors.

The liturgy of Advent stresses the hope for liberation and deliverance by referring again and again to "captive Israel" and to "the people that walked in darkness." However, being on this side of the resurrection in history, the Church knew that true deliverance would come from the Suffering Servant, and that even in the midst of painful, destructive political, economic and social oppression, a new and almost unimaginable freedom would be found.

This new-found freedom comes from the forgiveness of our sins and our subsequent reconciliation with God. Thus, the forerunner of Jesus Christ, St. John the Baptist, preached a message of repentance in preparation for the coming of Him who would be the Savior of the world. Advent gives special emphasis to John the Baptist's mission, and beautifully combines images from Isaiah of the arid ground of the desert waiting for the winter rains with the preaching of John the Baptist in the wilderness. Christ's coming will liberate us from the arid past and revive us with the water of eternal life.

Finally, as Advent draws to a close the Church begins to focus on the blessed Virgin Mary, for it is in obedience and allegiance to God, our King, that we are found to be faithful subjects in which the Kingdom can come. Her response to God was an overwhelming "yes" and in the face of rebuke, shame, and even death, Mary replied to the angel, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said."

Thus with the close of Advent the stage has been set, the cry has gone out from Israel, the way has been prepared.

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