Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Tuesday 22 June |
Saint of the Day: Sts John Fisher and Thomas More
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

Advent Light: Ask for a sign, high and deep! Then prepare for the Reality to come

ADVENT LIGHT

NASA | CC BY 2.0

Elizabeth Scalia - published on 12/20/17

A reflection and prayer for December 20, 2017, Day 18 of Advent

The LORD spoke to Ahaz:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered,
“I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!”
Then Isaiah said:
Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary men,
must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel. (
Isaiah 7:10-14)

These Advent readings in Isaiah are fraught with beauty and mystery, and they often perfectly capture the sense of human smallness that always accompanies Advent, at least for some. Here, the Lord invites Ahaz — who does not believe — to request a sign, and not just any sign, but a great one. Ahaz, using language that sounds pious but is in fact slyly meant, says he will not ask; he will not tempt the Lord.

In truth, Ahaz does not want a great sign from God, because he knows that if God delivers, he will be forced into belief, or at least acknowledgement, of what he prefers to keep at a distance.

For an unbeliever, God’s invitation is a challenge. EWTN Foundress Mother Angelica, PCPA, liked to tell a story about a woman who accompanied a friend of the monastery’s for a visit. The woman was invited to take some of the nun’s books as a parting gift, but refused the offer, and when Mother asked why she replied, “If I read them I know I will have to change, and I don’t want to change.”

This was Ahaz’s challenge, and he did not wish to meet it, because change — whether it be a new job, a new neighbor, a wedding or a new baby in the family — always brings with it a measure of vulnerability.

And as we read early on in Advent, to be vulnerable terrifies us, and makes us want to self-protect, to secure ourselves from any surprises out of our control.

Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!

What would you ask of God, were he to offer such a sign, understanding that the sign would not be a mere symbol, but a condition of reality, just as something as pretty and distant as a rainbow is a sign and also a real effect of water droplets and light refraction? God’s sign, in Isaiah’s prophecy, is the advent of the Constant Reality of God-With-Us.

God. With us. Not for a little while, not for 33 years, not as a metaphor, but forever, and in the Flesh. In the tabernacle of your nearest Catholic church. Every day, in every timezone on Earth, again, and still, and still, and still.

Yes, it’s a great change, and it makes us vulnerable because the Living God as Reality sees us as we are, and we want to hide, because we know our sins, and think we don’t want to change and be vulnerable before God.

We’re not so far from Ahaz, most of us, because — as St Paul writes — “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a Living God.” And yet all he really wants us to do, is be willing to draw near, and return his gaze, in trust.

Come, Lord Jesus! As we near Bethlehem, increase our desire to see you, to know you, which will help us to better trust you. Increase our trust until it is as deep as the nether world, and high as the sky, so there is no room left, for our fear. Amen.

~

Aleteia is bringing you reflections — Advent Light — for each day of this 2017 liturgical season. Follow the series here.

Tags:
AdventAdvent Light 2017
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
SUMMER SHED
Zelda Caldwell
Catholic priest’s chapel is finalist in “Shed of the Year&#...
2
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
3
KSIĄDZ
Theresa Civantos Barber
5 Thoughtful ways to honor a priest this Father’s Day
4
SAINT PETER AND JESUS
Philip Kosloski
Who started the Catholic Church?
5
FATHER ANIMATION
Zoe Romanowsky
Animated film shows the power of fatherhood in just one minute
6
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
7
REFUGEES DURING THE HUNGNAM EVACUATION
Larry Peterson
Korean War hero advanced on path to sainthood
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.