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Introduction: As we observe the sacred season of Advent, it is good to recall how the path to Christ’s stable was paved by the faithfulness of innumerable godly people who went before us. These meditations for each day of Advent reflect on the witness of the holy ones of the Old Testament and how each believer’s relationship with God helps to prepare us to receive Jesus Christ, to believe in him, and to love him. The graced journey from Eden to Bethlehem happens in the company of countless holy companions, and we join with them as we make our own Advent pilgrimage to the manger.
Join the Aleteia community each day this Advent for a reflection on the journey of an Old Testament pilgrim, and how he or she is leading us to the Christ Child in this holy season.
Every story needs relatable characters and memorable settings. The Biblical story begins with quintessentially relatable protagonists: Adam and Eve, humanity’s first parents whose plot encompasses all. In them, we see the greatness and peril of the human drama: great, because created in God’s image and called to participate in the divine likeness, perilous, because the freedom that enables this participation makes it possible to reject.
Eden is the site of our beginning and essential conflict. Abuse of freedom through mistrust in God’s goodness closes Eden’s borders and exchanges paradise for exile. First, though, comes the first announcement of the Good News that is our story’s central theme. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel (Gn 3:15).
These words open the path to a new City, where our progenitors are promised a home far greater than the one left behind. Between these two cities, though, lies a third: Bethlehem, the object of our Advent pilgrimage, where the woman’s promised descendent first crushes the maleficent serpent’s head. It is where Adam and Eve are heading when they bid Eden farewell.
“These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar,” the Letter to the Hebrews says of our Old Testament ancestors in faith, yet God “has prepared for them a city.” Adam and Eve are the first of many “strangers and exiles” on the long pilgrimage to the tree of eternal life by way of the Bethlehem manger.
None of us knows where, concretely, this journey will carry us, but we know we are preceded by fellow travelers in the pilgrim Church of all ages: Adam, Eve, and all those made righteous through their faith in the Christ who was to come.
With them, may we trust our Creator’s faithfulness to his promises this Advent, as we take those first steps toward the manger.
Each day’s reflection for “Pilgrims to the Manger” will be found here.