Readings for December 2, 2018
First week of Advent
1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2
Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
I was raised in a faith-filled home. However, as a child, despite my parents’ fervent efforts to teach their four boys the “real meaning of Christmas,” waiting for Christmas was wholly about the anticipation of gifts. In my family, we never revealed or even suggested to each other what we wanted for Christmas, so the excitement of what waited for us underneath the tree was a true test of patience. Having none, it was also a test of my guessing skills, as I carefully inspected each gift to predict its contents.
Now, as an adult waiting for Christmas, it is still very much about the anticipation of gifts, though lately I am focused on one promised gift in particular: the second coming of Christ. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming.” (CCC 524)
So how do I hold onto all of this anticipation with the wonder of a child but the maturity of an adult? St. Paul instructs the Church in Thessalonica on the proper way to wait: with love and in holiness. Jesus offers practical tips on waitful, reminding me to avoid letting my heart become drowsy with the “anxieties of daily life.” In the rush of what the retail world wants us to know as the Holiday Season, it can be an easy distraction. But Jesus urges me to be vigilant and pray.
In holiness and love, then, I must prepare my heart for Jesus’ coming more than I prepare my home with seasonal decorations and carefully wrapped presents. With child-like faith and wonder, I am filled with anticipation to light the first Advent candle in readiness for celebration of the birth of my Savior. I can then use Advent to prepare my heart for the second coming of Christ. Finally, because “redemption is at hand,” alert and vigilant, I can fully anticipate the everlasting joy that accompanies God’s saving grace. No wrapping or guesswork necessary.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior,
and for you I wait all the day.