A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people

Advent is a time when we wait.

   This is not supposed to be a boring wait, like for instance when we call a phone company to sort out an erroneous bill. The wait of Advent reminds us not only of the coming of Christmas, but of the final coming of Christ into this world, when he will come in majesty and power as ruler and merciful judge. This is a wait that is filled with joy and expectancy.

   The people in today’s Gospel are very much like ourselves. The feeling of joyful expectancy which had animated the crowd boiled over into an attempt to somehow declare John the Baptist as the long-awaited Messiah. In our own day however the season of Advent, a period of supposed joyful and expectant waiting is glossed over and we live as though it is Christmas already. The season of Advent has something of a prophetic character in this culture of ‘rapidification’, where the virtue of patient waiting is forgotten and the desire for immediate gratification is met with the force of untethered human will, and unprecedented technological power.

   This season of Advent serves as a reminder that patience is a virtue, and as a virtue it must be exercised and cultivated. More than this though, Advent teaches us that patient waiting is not simply a boring time of inactivity, but something that we must actively participate in. We ready ourselves for the coming joy of Christmas, by prayerful almsgiving to those in need, returning to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, building physical reminders, such as a nativity set, and leaving the crib empty until Christmas.

I pray that this season of Advent will be fruitful for you and for all of us.

Point to Ponder

Among the beautiful prayers of this time let me pinpoint that of the second Wednesday of Advent: “Almighty God, you call us to prepare the way for Christ the Lord, let us not tire of waiting for the consoling presence of the heavenly doctor through the weakness of our faith.” That we may not tire of waiting, that is, that we may not get tired of entreating. Entreating for what? For His presence to free us, making us more affectionate towards Him; and our life will be more whole, outstretched to the Father’s will, and therefore to forgiveness and mutual help.
Our weakness can become an excuse to give up entreating in the face of all our forgetfulness and all our mistakes: as if Christ were not always a present spring of a greater energy than our fragility. – Luigi Giussani, On the Occasion of Advent, 1991