What did it mean to pray for the Jews to pray for the First Coming of the Messiah? What does it mean for Christians to pray for the Second Coming of the Messiah? Notice that for the former, it was not a matter of despair, but rather of hope, to pray for the first coming of the Christ. This is revealed in the life of St. Anne as seen in a vision by Ven. Mary of Agreda in the Mystical City of God:
The most fortunate Anne had a house in Bethlehem and was a most chaste, humble and beautiful maiden. From her childhood she led a most virtuous, holy and retired life, enjoying great and continual enlightenment in exalted contemplation. Withal she was most diligent and industrious, thus attaining perfection in both the active and the contemplative life. She had an infused knowledge of the divine Scriptures and a profound understanding of its hidden mysteries and sacraments. In the infused virtues of faith, hope and love she was unexcelled. Equipped with all these gifts, she continued to pray for the coming of the Messiah. Her prayers were so acceptable to the Lord, that to her He could but answer with the words of the Spouse: “You have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.” (Cant. 4, 9). Therefore, without doubt, saint Anne holds a high position among the saints of the old Testament, who by their merits hastened the coming of the Redeemer.—Mystical City of God, p. 211, #167.
Ven. Mary of Agreda also recounts this same prayerful anticipation of the Messiah in the prayer life of St. Joachim:
Having, at the command of the Lord, persevered a whole year in fervent petitions, it happened by divine inspiration and ordainment, that Joachim was in the temple of Jerusalem offering prayers and sacrifices for the coming of the Messiah, and for the fruit, which he desired.—Mystical City of God, p. 215, #174.
Notice again that the mother of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, St. Anne, was “unexcelled” in faith and hope and charity and that she prayed “for the coming of the Messiah” and that these prayers for the coming of Messiah were “acceptable to the Lord.” Similarly, we read St. Joachim was “in the temple of Jersualem offering prayers and sacrifices for the coming of the Messiah.”
Thus, we see that the greatest saints at the threshold of the Old Testament and New Testament prayed in joy and hope for the coming of the Messiah. This was not done in desperation or despondency. Sure, St. Anne and St. Joachim probably saw the increasing pressure of the Roman Empire and the decreasing holiness of the Hebrew priesthood. Sure, the problems of the world probably helped super-charge the prayers of St.s Joachim and Anne to pray for the coming of the Messiah.
But it was a lifestyle of hope, not despair, in which they begged God for the first coming of the Messiah. So also, this Advent, I propose that praying for the Second Coming of Christ be a matter of great hope, not despair. This Advent, let us beg God (in great anticipation and even excitement) for the Glorious Second Coming of Jesus Christ. If we are living for Jesus Christ, we should be almost as hopeful for His Second Coming in Justice as the initial saints were for His First Coming in Mercy.
Notice Our Lord tells us to manfully and joyfully “straighten up and raise your heads” at His Second Coming amidst so much calamity as we read in the Gospel of the First Sunday of Advent:
“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads (levate capita vestra) because your redemption is drawing near (adpropinquat redemptio vestra.)” And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.—Lk 21:25-33.