What are the Three Advents Of Christ?

At the beginning of a new yearly cycle, the liturgy invites the Church to renew her proclamation to
all the peoples and sums it up in two words “God comes”. These words, so concise, contain an
ever new evocative power.
Let us pause a moment to reflect: it is not used in the past tense – God has come, – nor in the
future – God will come, – but in the present: “God comes”.
At a closer look, this is a continuous present, that is, an ever-continuous action: it happened, it is
happening now and it will happen again. In whichever moment, “God comes”.
The verb “to come” appears here as a theological verb, indeed theological, since it says
something about God’s very nature.
Proclaiming that “God comes” is equivalent, therefore, to simply announcing God himself, through
one of his essential and qualifying features: his being the God-who-comes.
Advent calls believers to become aware of this truth and to act accordingly. It rings out as a
salutary appeal in the days, weeks and months that repeat: Awaken! Remember that God comes!
Not yesterday, not tomorrow, but today, now!
The one true God, “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”, is not a God who is there in Heaven,
unconcerned with us and our history, but he is the-God-who-comes.
He is a Father who never stops thinking of us and, in the extreme respect of our freedom, desires
to meet us and visit us; he wants to come, to dwell among us, to stay with us.
His “coming” is motivated by the desire to free us from evil and death, from all that prevents our
true happiness. God comes to save us.
The Fathers of the Church observe that the “coming” of God – continuous and, as it were, conatural with his very being – is centred in the two principal comings of Christ: his Incarnation and
his glorious return at the end of time (cf. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechesis 15,1: PG 33, 870).
The Advent Season lives the whole of this polarity.
In the first days, the accent falls on the expectation of the Lord’s Final Coming, as the texts of this
evening’s celebration demonstrate.
With Christmas approaching, the dominant note instead is on the commemoration of the event at
Bethlehem, so that we may recognize it as the “fullness of time”.
Between these two “manifested” comings it is possible to identify a third, which St Bernard calls
“intermediate” and “hidden”, and which occurs in the souls of believers and, as it were, builds a
“bridge” between the first and the last coming.
“In the first”, St Bernard wrote, “Christ was our redemption; in the last coming he will reveal himself
to us as our life: in this lies our repose and consolation” (Discourse 5 on Advent, 1).
The archetype for that coming of Christ, which we might call a “spiritual incarnation”, is always
Mary. Just as the Virgin Mother pondered in her heart on the Word made flesh, so every individual
soul and the entire Church are called during their earthly pilgrimage to wait for Christ who comes
and to welcome him with faith and love ever new

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
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