There is a saying in Christian Theology in describing the mystery of God as, “the already” and “the not yet.” In many ways we have already encountered God in certain ways and not yet in other, deeper ways.
As I was saying last week in the homily about Advent, in our first readings of each Mass in Advent hear the “not yet” hopes and dreams of what will be when God comes to us in a real tangible way. We hear from Isaiah describing what the Son of Man will be like, how will he help us, and how he will heal us. We will hear other readings from Hebrew Scripture from other prophets such as Zephaniah and Baruch, they will tell us how to prepare and what to look for when the Son of Man in fact does come to us. In order to appreciate the meaning of Advent we need to place ourselves, metaphorically in the “not yet,” in other words, what the feeling and yearning would be like if Jesus had not come yet.
It is hard for us to put us in the frame of mind of the Israelites and prophets yearning for the Son of Man to come to them. We take it for granted that he already did. When settle for the feeling Jesus came to already, it is difficult to feel the joy of Christmas. While we know the feeling of “the already,” it is important not to stay there and take what happened in Christ’s birth, already. We need to imagine, project and feel what it feels like for those who have “not yet” experienced Christ.
The already and the not yet, is certainly not simply dealing with the historical Jesus, but it is also speaking to our own experience and encounters with Christ. Sure, we have already experienced Jesus in some ways, but need to remind ourselves that we are not satisfied or content with what has already happened. We look to our even deeper encounters with Christ that have not yet happened.