Advent is the liturgical season in which the Church prepares us for Christmas. For four weeks, she invites us to share the mentality of the patriarchs and prophets of Israel who longed for the coming of the Messiah in His double advent of mercy and glory. There is a third: that of Jesus Christ by His grace in our souls.
Christ Has Come, He Will Return
The prophets announced the coming of Christ in the Old Testament. But their words correspond to two historically distinct events. On the one hand there is the advent of mercy, the humble condition of the human existence of the Son of God made man to redeem us; on the other hand the advent of justice when Jesus Christ, full of glory and majesty, will appear at the end of the world to judge the living and the dead. In the Advent liturgical texts the Church speaks in turn of one and the other, sometimes without transition as the prophets did.
Justice Follows Mercy
The sentence that Jesus Christ will then pass, when He returns to this world, depends on the reception He received when He came the first time. This divine judgment is a separation between the good and the bad.
He will distance all those who have denied Christ on earth from Him and will separate them forever from those who are faithful to Him, whereas He will gather around Him those who have followed Him, to make them children of God.
We Must Welcome His Coming
Between these two historical events, there is a third advent of Christ: His advent of grace in our souls. The acceptance of His coming with all its consequences (Redemption, Revelation, Church, sacraments) produces a new life of grace in our souls. And the sentence He will pronounce at His last advent will depend on this acceptance. He will lead all those who received Him with faith and love to enter after Him into the kingdom of His Father.
Enter into Advent
Does not this triple advent have the same goal? Indeed, the Son of God lowered Himself by becoming man so as to offer us the treasures of His grace in order to bring us back to His Father by introducing us into His celestial kingdom.
During Advent, the Church invites us to embrace the desires and confidence of the patriarchs and prophets.
As Christmas approaches, the anniversary of the Incarnation, the Church wants us to aspire to the coming of Jesus into our souls by grace and so that we may thereby be among the number of His chosen ones when He returns as Sovereign Judge at the end of time.