By Fr. Frank Pavone, Crisis Magazine, December 16, 2019
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel…” This is perhaps the most well-known Advent hymn—one that floods us with the feelings of the coming Christmas season. But the hymn also raises a question. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that “Emmanuel” means “God is with us” (Mt. 1:23). In the song, then, we pray, “O come, O come, God who is already with us!” If He is with us, why are we asking Him to come?
The reason is that, when God comes, He changes and transforms us. Yet we are free to slow down and thwart that process of change. We are often in need of increased openness to God’s work in our lives. God indeed loves us as we are, but He loves us too much to let us remain the way we are. There is more of God that we can receive, more about Him that we can know, more of our old ways that we can cast off, more of the grace of Christ that we can live by.
God wants to come to every corner of our world and transform every aspect of our lives. Though we have received Him before, there are dark corners to which we have not yet invited Him. “O come, O come, God who is with us, come to the places where we have not yet allowed you to transform us. Come and remove the sin we still cling to; come and give us the compassion and virtue we do not yet have!” ….