I love Advent.
I love Advent because it’s not Christmas yet.
I think one of the temptations this time of year is to just skip over Advent and go straight to Christmas. I know that here at the Seminary, it would be kind of nice to skip these next couple of weeks of papers, finals, and even the telephone marathon we LA seminarians are about to go through in a couple days to encourage donors to be generous to the seminary this holiday season (seriously!). Bring on Christmas! I can’t wait to go see my siblings in North Carolina. I can’t wait for a little break from the studies (but the formation of being a seminarian goes on!). I can’t wait to celebrate yet again the truth that our God loves us so much that He would become a helpless, feeble baby, who for nine months in Mary’s womb could not even use cries and tears to protect Himself. Bring on Christmas!
But we’ve got to be patient.
And that’s what Advent is about.
We can really look to our Blessed Mother Mary as the best example of this. From the moment that the angel Gabriel came to her and called her full of grace, Mary had to be patient. She had nine months to wonder what it would be like to hold Jesus in her arms, nine months to be afraid of how much more dangerous child birth was at that time, nine months to ponder just what it was the angel meant by his great message that her son would be called Son of the Most High. What excitement! What terror! What joy! What confusion! But Mary was patient, she was prayerful, she was longing for Jesus.
I wonder, would Mary have wanted to skip those nine months of wonder and awe? Did she get a little impatient at times, wondering what Jesus’ face would look like, what God would look like? How much joy did she feel when Jesus was kicking in her womb? Fear when he was silent? How much relief was there after nine months when Jesus was finally born, and she heard his first cries and first held him in her arms? Christmas just doesn’t make sense without that waiting, that anticipation, that expectation, that wonder and awe!
So maybe it would be best if we didn’t just skip through these next few weeks to get to the big party. With all its struggles and all its joys, with all the little things that are in the way of Christmas, all the finals and papers and phone calls, not to mention the shopping and traveling, Advent can be forgotten pretty easily. But don’t let the waiting and the longing and the desiring for Jesus’ birth be lost in some feeling of “I can’t wait for Christmas to be here!” We can skip ahead, sure, or we can wait and we can soak it in, so that when Christmas does get here, it shocks us and amazes us and moves us that our God is willing to become as defenseless and vulnerable as a baby for us.
Mary, Mother of God, pray for us! Give us your patience to see the face of Jesus. Give us your courage to welcome Jesus into the world this Christmas. And help us to yearn for Him, to long for Him, and to be ready when He comes into our life.