December 12, 2018
I have been thinking about waiting in this Advent season. We wait a great deal. The other day, I was driving and there was something that was holding up traffic on the highway. We waited. We did not know what had happened or for how long we would wait. But, wait we did. I tend to drive instead of fly whenever I can. Why? I hate the “hurry up and wait” in airports today. Too much waiting for me! I am sure that we have all had the experience where we are trying to resolve something on the telephone only to be told to “listen closely to all the options, as the menu may have changed since you last called.” And we wait.
All of these examples involve waiting and this type of waiting is frustrating and difficult because we are passive. Things are happening outside of our control and there is little we can do in the midst of this waiting other than to practice patience. This type of waiting seems meaningless. However, this is not the only kind of waiting. There is another kind of waiting—the kind connected with Advent—which is meaningful. Here waiting involves two aspects that are different from the meaningless waiting. Meaningful waiting involves decisive action and it involves hope.
From the beginning of Advent we were reminded about the decisive action that we are called to: Stay awake! Live in the Light! Work for peace! Today’s first reading is no different as it calls for strengthening hands that are feeble. Today’s second reading encourages us to let our gentleness be known to everyone. These are decisive actions. And they are to be done in hope, trusting that our actions of forgiveness, understanding, and generosity will be graced by God in ways that will bear fruit. These actions are done in the hope that we will, with God’s grace, forgive as God forgives, understand as God understands, and be generous as God is generous.
Advent points us toward a destination—in the liturgical sense toward Christmas and in the eschatological sense toward Christ’s second coming—but the journey itself is meaningful. As disciples, we are moving toward Christ, but we always remember that the one who is our future is already present now.