(This can also be sung to the melody “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”)
O come, Desire of nations, bind,
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
and be Thyself our King of Peace.
Rejoice, Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel!
As Mary and Joseph huddled in the cave of Bethlehem, it may have been hard to believe they had just brought the King of the Nations into the world. And yet, Isaiah had declared that a virgin would conceive and bear a saving son (Isaiah 7:14) and later, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’” (Isaiah 9:5). With the coming King comes a vibrant and growing Kingdom. Every time we pray the Our Father, we make a request that this Kingdom will come. Rather than exclusively pointing to the coming of Christ’s kingdom at the end of time, this petition is the work of the Church, the mission of each of us. We make his Kingdom come every time we share the Gospel, protect and defend the unborn, forgotten, and abandoned. We make his kingdom come every time we inject gospel values into our conversations with our neighbors over the fence or with our elected officials in the public square. At the heart of the missionary message given to all of us to proclaim is “the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 10:7). Literally, it is within everyone’s reach. I love how Pope Francis put it in his latest Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, “To evangelize is to make the kingdom of God present in our world” (EG, para. 176).
It is likely that you have already purchased most of your Christmas gifts this season. Consider giving the gift of your faith in the form of a letter to friends and family. Share with them how your faith gives your life meaning, how the sacraments have nourished your life, why you are Catholic. For many of them, this gift will be a treasured possession they can read again and again. Faith is a gift, but never a private possession. By its very nature, it is made to be given away.
Take a moment to sit at the feet of the Desire of the Nations, the Prince of Peace, the King of All. Make Pope Francis’s petition to Mary your own, “Virgin of listening and contemplation, Mother of love, Bride of the eternal wedding feast, pray for the Church, whose pure icon you are, that she may never be closed in on herself or lose her passion for establishing God’s kingdom.” – Evangelii Gaudium, para. 288.
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