Editor's note:

As we look toward the Sec­ond Sun­day of Advent, we’d like to share this thought­ful piece on God’s promis­es and ful­fill­ment tak­en from Augus­tine of Hip­po’s dis­course on the psalms. 

Wish­ing you a blessed Advent!

—Renovaré Team

God estab­lished a time for his promis­es and a time for their fulfillment.

The time for promis­es was in the time of the prophets, until John the Bap­tist; from John until the end is the time of fulfillment.

God, who is faith­ful, put him­self in our debt, not by receiv­ing any­thing but by promis­ing so much. A promise was not suf­fi­cient for him; he chose to com­mit him­self in writ­ing as well, as it were mak­ing a con­tract of his promis­es. He want­ed us to be able to see the way in which his promis­es were redeemed when he began to dis­charge them. And so the time of the prophets was, as we have often said, the fore­telling of the promises.

He promised eter­nal sal­va­tion, ever­last­ing hap­pi­ness with the angels, an immor­tal inher­i­tance, end­less glo­ry, the joy­ful vision of his face, his holy dwelling in heav­en, and after the res­ur­rec­tion from the dead no fur­ther fear of dying. This is as it were his final promise, the goal of all our striv­ing. When we reach it, we shall ask for noth­ing more. But as to the way in which we are to arrive at our final goal, he has revealed this also, by promise and prophecy.

He has promised men divin­i­ty, mor­tals immor­tal­i­ty, sin­ners jus­ti­fi­ca­tion, the poor a ris­ing to glory.

But, brethren, because God’s promis­es seemed impos­si­ble to men — equal­i­ty with the angels in exchange for mor­tal­i­ty, cor­rup­tion, pover­ty, weak­ness, dust and ash­es — God not only made a writ­ten con­tract with men, to win their belief, but also estab­lished a medi­a­tor of his good faith, not a prince or angel or archangel, but his only Son. He want­ed, through his Son, to show us and give us the way he would lead us to the goal he has promised.

It was not enough for God to make his Son our guide to the way; he made him the way itself, that you might trav­el with him as leader, and by him as the way.

There­fore, the only Son of God was to come among men, to take the nature of men, and in this nature to be born as a man. He was to die, to rise again, to ascend into heav­en, to sit at the right hand of the Father, and to ful­fill his promis­es among the nations, and after that to come again, to exact now what he had asked for before, to sep­a­rate those deserv­ing his mer­cy, to exe­cute his threats against the wicked, and to reward the just as he had promised.

All this had there­fore to be proph­e­sied, fore­told, and impressed on us as an event in the future, in order that we might wait for it in faith, not find it a sud­den and dread­ful reality.

From The Litur­gy of the Hours Accord­ing to the Roman Rite, Vol. I, Advent & Christ­mas Sea­sons, pp. 227 – 228. Catholic Book Pub­lish­ing Corp., 1975.

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