“O Lord, we have patiently waited for Thee: Thy name and Thy remembrance are the desire of the soul. My soul hath desired Thee in the night; yea, and with my spirit within me in the morning early I will watch for Thee.”
If you also, O consecrated soul, are preparing to commemorate the Incarnation of the Word in loving, watchful expectation, today’s happy announcement will resound in your ears more joyfully than ever: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice... the Lord is nigh.” Thus today’s Mass begins and the Epistle (Phil 4,4-7) repeats the theme. It is one of exultant joy: “The Lord is nigh!” For the soul who waits for Jesus and seeks Him alone, sincerely and ardently, with lively desire and love, there can be only one motive for its joy, to know that Jesus is near, nearer with each day. Even St. Paul admonishes us to have no other desire, “The Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous... And may the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds...” (Ep).
The more a soul concentrates its desires and affections on God, the more it will be freed from earthly cares. It will no longer be troubled about anything, knowing that only one thing is necessary, “to seek God,” and that in God it will find everything it needs. Hence to draw near to God, is to find not only true joy, but also peace. In Him it has everything, and God alone suffices.
“The Lord is in the midst of you.” This is the second joyful message in today’s liturgy. It is St. John the Baptist who speaks to us in the Gospel (Jn 1,19-28), “There is one in the midst of you whom you know not.” John, a man of faith, was telling the Jews with full conviction that Jesus had been living among them for thirty years and that they did not know Him because He had not yet manifested Himself by miracles.
His words have value for us, too; Jesus is really present in our midst: present in our tabernacles by the Eucharist, present in our souls by grace. But who recognises Him? Only those who believe. Revive, then, your faith; you will find Jesus, and will know Jesus according to the measure of your faith in Him. Sometimes He conceals Himself from you, and you think that you will never find Him, never feel Him again. This is the time to redouble your faith, to walk “in pure faith.” “Blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed” (Jn 20,28). Such was the faith of St. John the Baptist, who had not seen Jesus’ miracles, and nevertheless believed. Such was Mary’s faith, to which the Vesper antiphon refers, “Blessed art thou, O Mary, that hast believed the Lord; those things will be fulfilled in thee, which were spoken to thee.” Even Mary lived by faith; she had to believe in the words of the Angel, and when she agreed to become the Mother of God, she had to accept a mystery which she did not understand. But Mary did believe, and by her faith, God’s words were accomplished in her. And so shall they be in you; you will see all your hopes fulfilled, you will be able to realize your ideal of intimate union with God - if you have faith in Him and in His promises.
O God, my God, to Thee do I watch at break of day. In a desert land, and where there is no water, my soul thirsts for Thee; my flesh hath thirsted for Thee. It is Thou I seek, O Lord; without Thee the world is a desert burned by the sun where nothing can quench my thirst. Thou alone art my salvation, my refuge, my Saviour, and my Redeemer. Day and night I sigh for Thee; to Thee I direct all my desires and affections. As the eyes of the handmaid are on the hands of her mistress, so are my eyes always on Thy face. Show me Thy face, O Lord, and illumine my path; be Thou my light and my strength.