‘Let me… refer briefly to the three heralds of Advent who once more appear before us in today’s Mass, and let me present them to you as types of the Christian priest. Isaias is the great prophet sent by God to herald the Kingdom. He was a man who yearned for Christ. The priest, surely, is a spiritual son of this great prophet. Does he not kindle in men the desire to seek the kingdom of grace, and to find it? John the Baptist is also a type of the priest – especially so. He prepared the way for Christ, as the priest too must prepare the way for Christ’s coming in grace. A priest’s deference and humility must match those same virtues as found in John the Baptist, who claimed for himself no more exalted titled than “the Bridegroom’s friend”. His sole task was to lead Israel to Christ, then to retire into the background. That too is the priest’s task. Christ is the Bridegroom of the soul. The soul in grace is His bride. The priest wants nothing more than to bring the bride and Bridegroom together, and then to retire. As St Paul said so well: “My jealousy on your behalf is the jealousy of God Himself; I have betrothed you to Christ, so that no other but he should claim you, his bride without spot” (2 Corinthians 11.2). Christ, then, is the Bridegroom, our soul the bride, the priest the Bridegroom’s friend who prepares the soul for grace.
Finally, God’s Mother is also a type of the priest as mediator of grace. Mary gave the Saviour to the world. She gave Him birth, laid Him tenderly in a manger, bound Him in swaddling-clothes, and showed Him to the shepherds, the wise men, the aged Simeon. Beneath the cross she shared in His sacrifice by her own compassion. And what of the priest? He too gives Christ to the world in the Eucharist, in the word of God, in grace. May he do it with the same tender, loving care as Mary showed. And may Christians lay hold of grace, joyfully, eagerly, as did the shepherds and the wise men, Simeon and Anna’.
from Seasons of Grace, 1963, by Pius Parsch, 1884–1954
Raise up, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us: that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sorely hindered in running the race that is set before us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; who livest and reignest with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen. – Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Divine Worship: The Missal
Fr Lee Kenyon