As we prepare to bring to a close our liturgical year (Feast of Christ the King) and begin a new one (First Sunday of Advent), we find the readings pointing us to the end times. These remind us of the frailty of human life; we all will, at some time, transition to a new way of living in a kingdom that will last forever.
Jesus made it very clear that the only one to know when life will end is the Father and he did not even share that information with the Son. So, what do we do during this time of waiting? That is the important question of the Advent Season, how do we wait? Recalling the anticipation of our Hebrew ancestors, waiting for the coming of the Messiah, the Church challenges us to use this Advent as a time to learn patience as we await the celebration of Christmas.
This is a tough call as we are already celebrating christmas (using small “c” as it has NOTHING to do with the birth of Christ). Advertisements are already using the theme of “Black Friday” the customary day after Thanksgiving when the christmas shopping season begins. Decorations, gift ideas and the like are already being pushed in stores and catalogs and it has begun this year BEFORE Thanksgiving! (As I write this I have in the last two weeks received about a dozen catalogs suggesting what I need to buy to give as christmas gifts.)
Why are we in such a hurry? A sad commentary is that even in Catholic realms, this rush to the season is a reality. The beauty of the Advent Season, is the call to be patient, to wait, to be a people of anticipation. We rush through our lives, often at break-neck speed, failing to pause and wait, to reflect and rejoice on the giftedness we have been given. What will we gain by being in such a hurry? Will the anticipated celebration be better because we got there so quickly? Or, will it have more meaning if a period of anticipation allows us to better understand the beauty of what we are preparing to celebrate? Please, take some time this Advent, to truly celebrate it, stepping back, slowing down and reflecting on the anticipated birth of our Savior and Redeemer.
One other thought… We have just finished one of the most contentious election seasons I can recall in my voting life. Pray that the partisanship that so defined this election cycle can and will be replaced with an attitude that gives rise to conciliation and compromise.
I pray that your Thanksgiving was a time to reflect and give thanks for family, friends and the blessings you have received.
May this Advent teach you the beauty of anticipation and waiting, and may the coming of the Word made flesh that dwelt among us, bless you with happiness and peace in the coming New Year.
With prayers and love,