Tear open the heavens, Maranatha!
“O that you would tear open the heavens and come down.” (Isaiah 64:1)
On behalf of all believers, who raise their eyes to the skies, who try to reach out to Heavens, the prophet exclaims, "O that you would tear open the heavens!"
Lord, if you rip that thickness which seems to separate us from You, then we can, at last, find the true peace, the security, the joy we need desperately!
This hope has found its answer in Jesus Christ. The heavens were torn apart when the Word became flesh. On this Sunday of Advent, we joyfully celebrate the opening of heavens; and with the angels, we sing: "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests." (Luke 2:14)
But the Sunday of Advent is also devoted to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, reminding us that he who has torn apart the heavens in the silence of a night in Bethlehem will tear open them again on the Last Day, at His second coming to judge the living and the dead. In a few minutes, tomorrow or in millennia: "because you do not know the day or the hour." (Matthew 25:13)
On the first advent the Messiah came in the humility of the manger and in the humiliation of the cross, but He will return in power and great glory. But He will return in power and great glory. We are between these two comings, an in-between that can only be a vigilant, joyful and hopeful expectation because everything has changed since Christ: everything has been revealed in Him, everything is waiting to be accomplished by Him.
Thus, in these times of vigil: "Be always on the watch, and pray." Take all the means to stay alert: "If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping." (Mark 13:36). We must stay awake. Our life on earth must never become a time of sleepiness, even though a large number of sleeping pills are at our disposal. They are called worries, riches, pleasures, sin in general. But also the lack of vigilance to care for the weakest and smallest or the lack of attention in managing our time well in order to not miss what is the most important.
The Gospel is both good news and a great torment, which prevents us from falling asleep. We have to stay awake to make sure not to miss the big day. St. Cyprian of Carthage says: “Let us always with solicitude and caution wait for the sudden coming of the Lord, that when He shall knock, our faith may be on the watch, and receive from the Lord the reward of our vigilance.”
Indeed, the early Christians were on high alert. They were looking impatiently for the return of Christ. “Maranatha!” is the earliest confession of the church. It is an aramaic word that means, “Come, O Lord.” It was first used by the St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 16:22 and it appears in the next to the last sentence of the entire Bible (Revelations 22:20).
“Maranatha” was more than wishful thinking. It was even more than a prayer. Maranatha was a way of life. It was the framework within which the early church lived out its faith expecting, waiting and longing for the Lord’s return.
Hence, the second Coming of our Lord can become a desirable reality: "We look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.” (Titus 2:13) and we pray: “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down…” (Isaiah 64:1).
“I have done it, and I will," replies our God and Savior Jesus Christ, "but I exhort you, you too strive to tear open the heavens, not by your own strength, but by my sanctifying grace, tear apart the heavens to join Me. Make an effort, do not remain clinging to the ground of your personal plans and your vanities. Throw away your sins, tear open the heavens and allow me to raise you higher.”
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!