by Ciel Tagaza
Now on our third week of Advent, we find ourselves in the beginnings of a new season, the start of a new liturgical year. While Advent is about waiting for the second coming of Christ, it is also anticipating how God would reveal Himself to us in our present situation. In what manner and form will Jesus come visit me this time?
For me, one word has been jumping off the gospel readings the past few days. Behold! A beautiful word brimming with promise and purpose. It is always followed by something significant, life-changing, assuring or prophetic in the Bible. It is an invitation and an imperative at the same time. To behold is to not simply look, but thoroughly observe, not miss out, keep hold of someone or something. We must wake up from our spiritual slumber and watch out for God’s signs and messengers lest we miss the Lord’s revelation.
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you. (Matthew 11:10)
When we worship God and contemplate Him, we are beholding the Lord as He beholds us. The Ignatian exercise which involves, “looking at God looking at me,” comes to mind. Adoration, a fundamental act of worship, requires beholding. We cannot give Jesus the proper adoration without beholding the Man. And in so doing, we behold our King.
Worship is not so much for God’s own sake as much as it is for ours. To behold the Lord is to realign our gaze with His because we live in a world that vies for our attention. We are continuously bombarded by noise and distractions that it is easy to lose sight of God. Our regular prayer time, our weekly worship gatherings, our Eucharistic adoration and our Sunday worship help us refocus and find our bearing in Him.
Worship begins with an awareness of the Lord’s gaze on us. Looking at Christ looking at us, we know how piercing and loving Jesus’ gaze can be. In the gospels, Jesus would look at the person in the eye before He spoke words of truth, peace, forgiveness, healing and blessing. Do we let Jesus behold us first, or do we just want to hear Him speak immediately? There is no need to rush into dialogue. Just be still in His presence. If we keep beholding Him and His ways, we will eventually become more like the One whom we are beholding.
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)