‘Adveniat regnum tuum'

Advent, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, is the season of diminishing light. The closer we come to the winter solstice, the greater we seem to need hope and reassurance. In the Jewish tradition, this longing culminates in the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah; in the Scandinavian countries, it is addressed by the glowing crowns highlighting St. Lucy’s Day (December 13); in the Western Church, each additional week of Advent provides another candle to ward off the darkness, climaxing in the light of Christ himself. The graver our situation, the greater our longing. Thus the Gospel of John begins with an electrifying assurance: “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never mastered it” (1:5).

Of course, we live far removed from biblical times, even from the gas-lit era of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Ours is an electronic, nuclear age, one that promises we will never want for light or sound. Our cities pulsate in the day and glow at night. We have even learned how to position ourselves globally, using satellites to orient our cars and our missiles, and, by applying the genius of the nocturnal creatures, to attack our enemies or those mistaken for our enemies in their lairs.

The theologian John S. Dunne writes that two questions are directed at Jesus throughout the Gospel of John: Where do you come from? Where are you going? For the believer, the answers are that Jesus comes from the...

To read the rest of this article please login or become a subscriber.