Advent is More Than A Waiting Game

by Advent and Christmas, Faith & Life, Liturgical Seasons

Ever noticed that when you wait in line for something, your desire grows? Or how the aroma of the sizzling steak on the grill whets the appetite? Or how about the phone call from a loved one that says he or she is arriving in just a few minutes? The heart jumps and you have that experience of “I just can’t wait!”

The technological culture of today tends to try to minimize these “wasted” moments of our life placing all that can be achieved or grasped immediately as ideal.

The danger lies in the fact that we forget how to wait; or better, we forget what the whole purpose of waiting is. And this is probably a bigger deal than one might think.

Advent, then, comes around to help us to go  back to the basics and say: what is waiting all about? Waiting in the line is one thing; it is passive, boring, and, well, the epitome of losing time. Waiting for a loved one, however, is a time for preparation. What are we preparing? Our hearts. This is the kind of “waiting” that we are dealing with during the Advent season. It’s a time to touch those desires in your heart and allow them to expand and to fill your entire interior. It’s a time to put order in your house, turning every detail into a message of love and welcome for the awaited guest.

To end, I would suggest taking a minute to read these two paragraphs from an Angelus of Benedict XI. He speaks to us precisely about this experience of waiting and expectation and gives us a few keys on how to live it out during the Advent season:

“Expectation or waiting is a dimension that flows through our whole personal, family and social existence. Expectation is present in thousands of situations, from the smallest and most banal to the most important that involve us completely and in our depths. Among these, let us think of waiting for a child, on the part of a husband and wife; of waiting for a relative or friend who is coming from far away to visit us; let us think, for a young person, of waiting to know his results in a crucially important examination or of the outcome of a job interview; in emotional relationships, of waiting to meet the beloved, of waiting for the answer to a letter, or for the acceptance of forgiveness…. One could say that man is alive as long as he waits, as long as hope is alive in his heart. And from his expectations man recognizes himself: our moral and spiritual “stature” can be measured by what we wait for, by what we hope for.  

Every one of us, therefore, especially in this Season which prepares us for Christmas, can ask himself: What am I waiting for? What, at this moment of my life, does my heart long for? And this same question can be posed at the level of the family, of the community, of the nation. What are we waiting for together? What unites our aspirations, what brings them together? In the time before Jesus’ birth the expectation of the Messiah was very strong in Israel – that is, the expectation of an Anointed one, a descendent of King David, who would at last set the people free from every form of moral and political slavery and find the Kingdom of God. But no one would ever have imagined that the Messiah could be born of a humble girl like Mary, the betrothed of a righteous man, Joseph. Nor would she have ever thought of it, and yet in her heart the expectation of the Savior was so great, her faith and hope were so ardent, that he was able to find in her a worthy mother. Moreover, God himself had prepared her before time. There is a mysterious correspondence between the waiting of God and that of Mary, the creature “full of grace”, totally transparent to the loving plan of the Most High. Let us learn from her, the Woman of Advent, how to live our daily actions with a new spirit, with the feeling of profound expectation that only the coming of God can fulfil”.

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