This week we Lecito the Liturgy with Preface I of Advent. The preface is the first part of the Eucharistic Prayer and begins with the words, “It is truly right and just.” Preface I of Advent is about the two comings of Christ and reminds us that Advent began long before the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary.
For he assumed at his first coming the lowliness of human flesh, and so fulfilled the design you formed long ago, and opened for us the way to eternal salvation, that, when he comes again in glory and majesty and all is at last made manifest, we who watch for that day may inherit the great promise in which now we dare to hope.
The first coming of Christ is for our restoration. The prayer tells us that Jesus assumed at his birth, the lowliness of human flesh to fulfill God’s design from long ago. God’s design, found in Genesis 1:26, is that we would be made in His image and likeness.
The image of God is not our physical body, it is our soul. When God breathed life into Adam, he breathed His own life into mankind. The soul is God’s very life within us. Everyone has a soul, everyone has been made in God’s image.
The likeness of God is something quite different. It means we were made to resemble God. In the Garden of Eden, when someone walked by, perhaps Eve wondered, “Was that God? Oh wait, it’s just Adam.” That is God’s design for his human creation: to not only have His life in us, but for us to resemble Him so that others would encounter Him when they encounter us.
St. Gregory wrote that we possess the image of God by creation, and the likeness of God is formed in us by free will. It didn’t take long for the human creature to lose the likeness of God. Actually, it’s called “The Fall.”
In the Garden of Eden, Satan tells Eve that if they eat of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, they would be like God. The kicker here is that they already were. Satan knew they would never lose His image, but if he could get them to choose to sin, they would lose their likeness of God and as a result, the world begins waiting for a Savior (Genesis 3:15).
Jesus is our model for the image and likeness of God. Imagine Jesus walking by and you have to stop and think, “Was that God? Oh wait, actually it was.” Jesus fulfilled God’s design and he teaches us how to do the same. For us to regain our likeness of God, Jesus became the sacrifice to reconcile us to the Father.
I’ve been thinking about the last line, we dare to hope. Dare sometimes seems to have a negative tone to it. While it does mean risk, we need to remember that what we’re boldly reaching for is hope and this hope isn’t ordinary hope. This hope comes when we live in faith and love.
Imagine yourself standing on a bridge. It’s a large bridge and the most secure and safe bridge you’ve ever seen. This bridge is Charity, God’s love. As you look around, you notice that what you see is the goodness of God: the people you love and who love you, the mountains, the ocean, forests of green, the sun and the stars in the sky.
Turn around and look behind you. Take notice and realize that you are witnessing the faithfulness of God. You see Noah opening the door of the ark after the water has gone down and Abraham embracing his son, Isaac. You see the Israelites rejoice as they come out of the Red Sea. You see David weeping as he writes the Psalms. You see Gabriel conversing with Mary. You see an empty tomb and a cloud from Heaven and Jesus is on it, rising to the right hand of God. All of these works are God doing what he said he would do.
Notice how meditating on the faithfulness of God has made your faith grow. Turn and face forward again. What you see ahead of you is Hope. It is hope in God’s promises and hope in eternal salvation. Those who believe in the great faithfulness of God also have great hope in God.
Now look down at the bridge. This bridge of love suspends us between the faith of what God has done and the hope for a day filled with God’s great promises, including eternal life.
The first coming of Christ enabled us to be forgiven, to restore our likeness, and paved a way for eternal salvation. At the second coming of Christ, we will rejoice in his glory and majesty because we have the sure hope that all that he promised will come true.
Take a quick look at the verbs in the prayer. Notice how much Jesus does for us: He assumed, fulfilled, opened, and will come again. All we have to do is live in his image, conform to his likeness, and inherit his promises.
Thanks for praying with me,