John the Baptist was set apart and filled with the Spirit from the womb, to prepare the way for the Lord. Towards the end of his life, he reflected on his ministry and compared himself to the best man at a wedding: “The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must increase; I must decrease.” (John 3:29-30) He waited, he listened, and he was full of joy when he heard the bridegroom’s voice.
Advent is a season of waiting, watching, and listening for the Bridegroom. But we are not the best man, like John. We are the bride: “The bride belongs to the Bridegroom” (John 3:29). We are like the bride in the Song of Songs, looking for the Bridegroom and listening for his voice. Every Advent, I meditate on the Song of Songs, listening and rejoicing greatly at the Bridegroom’s voice:
10 My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away,
11 for behold, the winter is past;
the rain is over and gone.
12 The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree ripens its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away.
14 O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
in the crannies of the cliff,
let me see your face,
let me hear your voice,
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely. (Song of Song 2:10-14)
As the days grow colder and darker, we hear the voice of Christ, promising eternal life with him in a renewed garden sanctuary. Advent is a season of penitence and praise. Our Lord longs to see our face, turned to him in repentance, and he longs of hear our voice, calling out to him in prayer and praise. Penance and praise make us beautiful, for our singing is sweet to the Lord and our repentance makes us lovely. Singing is sweetness and repentance is radiance. And so, as we enter this Advent season, we sing with the bride:
With great delight I sat in his shadow,
and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
4 He brought me to the banqueting house,
and his banner over me was love. (Song of Songs2:3-4)