It seems that the marketplace has decided that Christmas begins on November 1st. Colorful decorations, tantalizing smells, and festive music fill the stores as the unsold Halloween costumes and candy are put into storage. And for those few retailers that hold off a little bit, Thanksgiving becomes their breaking point, as they too give way to Jingle Bells and Evergreen trees. We have become accustomed to not waiting for anything. We have become an “instantaneous” society, where we want what we want, and we want it NOW. We have entire industries, such as credit cards or “pay nothing for a year”-financing, built on the whole idea of getting things now and paying later. There is also the booming of companies that work toward same-day delivery, or even delivery by drones within hours. We are impatient with our desires.
Today marks the beginning of Advent, a time specifically set aside to anticipate and wait for the celebration of the Birth of Jesus. Humanity had been waiting for a Savior for thousands of years, and when the time was right, God entered the world in the form of one of us, a helpless infant born to a simple family.
We choose to wait so that we can better prepare ourselves for what is to come. It many ways anticipating the gift of God’s Son makes it all the sweeter, but much more so, we are better able to receive the gift of Love, Christ Jesus, our Lord. The Gospel of Luke reminds us that during this time of waiting and anticipation, we must be careful that our “hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life.” (NAB, 21:34) We are called to “Be vigilant at all times….” (21:35), so that we will be prepared for the coming of our Savior.
Father, give me a heart of waiting. Let me use this time of Advent, this new beginning, to clean out all that keeps me from fully and totally accepting you in my life. Purify my heart and take away my anxieties, so that I may celebrate the Birth of your Son, Jesus, with a renewed spirit of love for my neighbor and for you. Through your grace, grant me the vigilance I need to be ready to receive you now, and when you come for me in glory. Amen.