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State Chaplain 2018 - 2019

Picture of Rev Kenney St. Hilaire

Rev Kenneth St. Hilaire
December 2018


 It’s a command we often give to a dog  - and, if the dog is like some dogs I’ve seen, the command has to be delivered with a certain degree of authority if the dog is expected to obey. Otherwise, the animal may simply raise its eyebrows and then look the other way.

In this context, it may seem strange to point out that “Come!” is the constant refrain of the Church during the season of Advent. We plead insistently with Jesus to come into our midst. Of course, we don’t command the Lord in the same way we command an animal, but it is interesting to note a couple of similarities in the way we deliver this imperative.

First, the word is said with urgency. When this command is delivered to a pet, a tone is used which communicates that the animal should come now. We don’t say, “Rover, when you get a chance, come here and I’ll put your leash on for a walk.” When we say, “Come!” we want a response right away.

Do we have this same sense of urgency when we call out, “Come!” to Jesus? I can’t think of a single instance when I sang “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” with even the slightest feeling of desperation for the coming of the Lord. What a sad admission! Surely Jesus desires our longing for Him to be so strong that we would call out, “Come!” with great urgency. It’s not: “Lord, take Your time. No rush. I’ve got everything under control.” When we cry out for Jesus’ coming this Advent, let it be an expression of our deep desire for the Kingdom of God.

Second, the one who says, “Come!” has the expectation that the one being called will actually come. Shouting an authoritative “Come!” to the dog, one rightly expects that the animal will respond to being summoned. True, one doesn’t know with certainty that Rover will come, but it isn’t like the command is simply a suggestion issued to Rover with a vague sense of hope that he might actually come.

When it comes to calling out for the Lord, I dare say that most people are not really expecting Jesus to come. It’s easy to slip into thinking: “Jesus has not returned in glory for almost 2,000 years … What are the chances that He will come now?” That sounds like something the enemy would have us think, so as not to be diligent about being prepared for the Second Coming!

Another trap is to interpret all the Advent talk about Jesus’ coming as only referring to the Lord’s birth, to be celebrated at Christmas. While this is part of the meaning, it is not the entire meaning, and it is not the deepest meaning. If we think we are only calling, “Come!” to commemorate the arrival of Jesus in Bethlehem, why should we have a sense of expectation that Jesus is coming again soon? This Advent, when the liturgy has us calling repeatedly for Jesus to come, let’s remember that we really are expecting Jesus to return in glory.

Who would have thought that an action as familiar and mundane as calling a dog could reap helpful insights for the spiritual life? Yet, whenever we hear someone calling their pet, it can be a reminder for us that when we call upon the Lord Jesus--“Come!”--our exclamation ought to be made with a sense of urgency and expectation.

A blessed Advent to you all! Vivat Jesus!


Fr. Kenneth St. Hilaire
State Chaplain