In Advent, we expect Christ’s coming in several senses. There is an eschatological sense: we expect Christ to come as Judge at the end of time, an expectation key to the Christian life. There is a sacramental sense: we expect the coming of Christ in the Eucharist, where He will be as real as He was in Bethlehem. There is the spiritual sense: we hope and prepare for Christ to come into our hearts. And then there is the most obvious one, which forms the backdrop to the others. The Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, is to be revealed as a baby.
Christ has been present on Earth since the Annunciation, hidden in the womb of His Mother. That day, 25 March, was for centuries the start of the English financial year; it is also the date JRR Tolkien chose for the final destruction of the Ring in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is, in truth, the date of the Incarnation. In His birth, however, Christ is revealed to us: He becomes, as a man, a public person. It is now possible and appropriate for Him to be venerated by the shepherds and the Wise Men. In His birth He becomes subject to the Law of Moses, at least apparently, though really He is the Lord of it: it pleases Him and His Mother to fulfil the Law scrupulously. In His birth He also becomes vulnerable, and He must be carried into safety from the wrath of Herod. We might say that in His birth, the logic of the Incarnation is worked out more fully.
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