Stop. Watch. Wait. Here is Advent.
Living the Word / Deacon Greg Kandra
Second Sunday of Advent, Dec. 10
Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; Psalms 85:9-10-11-12, 13-14; 2 Peter 3:8-14; Mark 1:1-8
If nothing else, Advent should remind us of this inconvenient truth: We are people in a hurry.
The other day, I was leaving Walmart and noticed a tent set up in the parking lot. I looked closer. They had drones lined up, prepared to deliver almost anything to your front door in a matter of minutes. Think a delivery truck is too slow? Problem solved.
Remember when we loved overnight delivery? Now, we want everything in 30 minutes — whether it’s a pizza or paper towels. We can’t wait to get to a phone or a computer — and we don’t, because the phone and the computer are with us, every second, of every day, in our hand or in our pocket.
What did we do before we had tiny smartphone screens to check every 10 minutes?
In 2023, we just don’t want to wait. For anything. Ever.
CHURCH PRESSES “PAUSE” BUTTON
But in the middle of this, for four short weeks, waiting is what we do. The church presses the “pause” button.
Stop. Watch. Wait. Here is Advent.
We find ourselves suddenly in a state of suspended animation. It’s the season of expectation, of longing. The church says, gently but firmly: wait for it.
At a time when nobody wants to wait for anything, Advent assures us that some things really are worth the wait.
A child is coming, a hope is dawning. In our liturgies and in our lives, we yearn for something we cannot quite name. We pray for deliverance. We cry out to God, “O come, Emmanuel! Ransom us!”
Like prisoners in a cell, we mark the days. We light candles in a wreath, one at a time, week by week. We fold open the cardboard windows of the Advent calendar, day by day, one day at a time, for 25 days.
This is Advent. It is the season when we wait — but also when we have work to do.
WHAT ARE WE PREPARING FOR?
“Be watchful,” Jesus told us in the gospel last week. Here, on the second Sunday of the season, we hear it loud and clear. Make the highway straight, Isaiah tells us. “Prepare,” John the Baptist says. “Prepare the way of the Lord.”
What are we preparing for?
Spoiler alert: it isn’t the presents and the tree, the cards and the tinsel.
No. It is Jesus Christ, the King of Kings.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote beautifully about the three comings of Jesus: in Bethlehem, at the incarnation; at the end of time, for the final judgment; and here and now, through the sacrament of the Eucharist, and the grace of God, and the prayerful awakening of our hearts.
That last one, I think, merits closer attention. This is what Advent is really about: Christ, the savior, dwelling within each of us — gracing us with mercy, with humility, with patience, with love. If we make that a priority, we will make of our lives an ongoing Advent. We will live waiting and watching in joyful hope for Christ to enter our lives and to be with us, always.
After all, that is the essence of his name: “Emmanuel.” God-with-us.
Only by making ourselves ready to encounter Christ today, can we make ourselves ready to encounter him at the end of time.
So prepare! Repent! Make the crooked paths straight. Heal a wound. Mend a fence. Comfort the suffering, sick and poor. Pray for the outcast and forgotten. Look beyond. And look within.
And do it all with love.
PUT OUT THE WELCOME MAT
Think of this as a time when we put out the welcome mat for the son of God. We light a candle. We make the walkway to the front door of our lives straight. We stand at the door and invite him in.
What will he find when he arrives? Will we be ready?
In a few weeks, wise men will be scanning the skies. They won’t be looking for a drone from Walmart. They will be looking for the sign that the waiting is over, that hope is on the horizon.
A star will appear. Light will break through. That is what all the waiting and wondering and worrying is all about.
At a time when nobody wants to wait for anything — is that delivery here yet? — Advent assures us that some things really are worth the wait.
DEACON GREG KANDRA is an award-winning author and journalist, and creator of the blog, “The Deacon’s Bench.” This column is provided by OSVNews.