I can think of no finer guide for us as we proceed through Advent this year than the Angelic Doctor. Here is a sermon he wrote for the First Sunday in Advent:
“Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek,” &c. — S. Matt. xxi. 5.
THIS is a prophecy of the Advent of Our Lord Jesus Christ, about which there are three signs.
First, the dignity of Him Who is coming; secondly, the utility of His Advent; thirdly, the manner in which He came.
Of the first sign we read in the Gospel, “Thy King cometh;” a merciful King; a just King; a wise King; a terrible King; an omnipotent King; an eternal King. A merciful King in sparing; a just in judging; a good in rewarding; a wise in governing; an omnipotent King in defending the good; a terrible King in punishing the evil; an eternal King in ruling eternally, and in bestowing immortality. Of the first, Isa. xvi. 5, “And in mercy shall the throne be established.”
Of the second, Isa. xxxiv., “And behold, a King shall reign in justice;” Isa. xvi. 5, “And He shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David.”
Of the third, Ps. Ixxiii. 1, “Truly God, is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.”
Of the fourth, Jer. xxiii. 5, “I will raise unto David a righteous branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute justice and judgment in the earth.”
Of the fifth, Esth. xiii. 9, “Lord, Lord, the King Almighty, for the whole world is in Thy power.”
Of the sixth, Wis. xi. 10, “As a severe King, Thou didst condemn and punish.”
Of the seventh, Jer. x. 10, ” But the Lord is the true God, He is the living God and an everlasting King ;” S. Luke i. 33, ” And of His Kingdom there shall be no end.”
Of the seven, collectively, 2 Macc. i. 24, “O Lord, Lord, God, Creator of all things, Who art fearful, and strong, and righteous, and merciful, and the only gracious King.” Wisdom in the Creator, mercy in the pitiful, goodness in the good, justice in the just, severity in the terrible, power in the powerful, eternity in the eternal.
This is the King Who cometh to thee for thy profit. Here the use of the Advent is noted, for it was seven-fold as applied to the present time: First, for the illumination of the world; second, for the spoliation of Hades; third, for the reparation of Heaven; fourth, for the destruction of sin ; fifth, for the vanquishment of the devil; sixth, for the reconciliation of man with God; seventh, for the beatification of man.
Of the first, S. John viii. 12, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life;” S. John i. 9, “That was the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”
Of the second, Hos. xiii. 14, “O death, I will be thy plague; grave, I will be thy destruction;” Zech. ix. 11, “As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant, I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.”
Of the third, Eph. i. 10, “That in the dispensations of the fulness of times might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are in earth, even in Him.”
Of the fourth, Heb. ii. 14, 15, “That He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
Of the fifth, Rom. vi. 6, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
Of the sixth, Rom. v. 10, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”
Of the seventh, S. John iii. 16, “For God so’ loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
It was because the holy Fathers saw the good things which were about to happen at His Advent that they were calling with so great desire, “O that Thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down.” Concerning these seven things the Prophet spake, Isa. Ixi. 1, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted; to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,” &c. He hath “anointed Me to preach good tidings.” Behold, the illumination of the world, for by preaching He hath enlightened the world for us; “to bind up the broken-hearted,” in destroying sin; and sin being destroyed, makes the broken heart to be healed.” To proclaim liberty to the captives: “behold the spoliation of Hades, for by spoiling Hades He led captivity captive. “The opening of the prison: “behold the restoration of Heaven, which is the opening of Heaven. “To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord:” behold the reconciliation of man with God. “The day of vengeance of our God” is the day of the destruction of the devil: for so He visited with vengeance for all the injuries which the devil had done to the saints. “To comfort all that mourn:” behold the beatification of men.
In this verse is noted the manner of His coming. “Meek:” in meekness Our Lord Jesus Christ wished to come; and He wished to come meekly for four reasons.
In the first place, that He might the more easily correct the wicked: Psalm lxxxix. 10 (Vulgate reading), “For mildness is come upon us; and we shall be corrected.”
In the second place, that He might show to all His lowliness: Eccles. iii. 19, “My Son, do Thy work in meekness, and Thou shalt be beloved above the glory of men.”
In the third place, that He might draw the sheep to Himself, and that He might multiply to Himself a people: 2 Sam. xxii. 36, “And Thy gentleness hath made me great.” S. Bernard says, “We wholly run after Thee, O good Jesus, on account of Thy meekness.”
In the fourth place, that He might teach meekness: S. Matt. xi. 29, “Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.”
There are four things which ought especially to commend meekness to us: the first, because it delivers us from evil; the second, because it perfects grace; the third, because it preserves the soul; and the fourth, because it deserves the land of the living. Of the first: It delivers from evil, because judicious meekness belongs to him who feels with no bitterness of mind. Of the second, Prov. iii. 34, “He giveth grace unto the lowly.” Of the third, Ecclesus. x. 31, “Keep Thy soul in meekness.” Of the fourth, S. Matt. v. 5, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Let us, therefore, ask that this Lord and King may come to us.