Friday, November 25, 2016

A Time to Wait

First Sunday of Advent (A)

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I hate waiting. I think we all do. Some of us have cultivated the virtue of patience more than others, but I would guess even the most patient among us don't actually enjoy waiting. Perhaps it is part of our fallen human nature. Perhaps it is a product of the culture we live in, the culture of "now."

When I buy something online, I'm always tempted by the option to pay more for "rush shipping" to have it by tomorrow. When I shop for groceries, the shelves are lined with promises of instant gratification -- instant coffee, instant oatmeal, instant pudding. Everyone knows these things don't taste as good as the traditional home made variety, but we are willing to trade quality for immediacy. We want our Internet connection to be fast. We want our cars to be fast. We want what we want and we want it now.

We all need reminding -- myself included -- that some things are worth waiting for. A meal prepared the proper way, with time and attention, really does taste a thousand times better. A college degree that takes four (or more) years and lots of hard work to earn is worth more because of time it takes to achieve. Waiting for marriage before giving yourself fully to your beloved is perhaps the most excellent example of something worth waiting for. If something is good, and worthy of love, then it is worth experiencing in its proper place and proper time. Don't spoil it by rushing. Good things are worth waiting for.

This Sunday the Church enters the liturgical season of Advent, or what I like to call the "It's not Christmas yet!" season. Our liturgical New Year does not begin with a babe in a manger -- not yet. The Church asks us to wait.

There is an order to things. Before summer we must have spring, before winter we must have autumn. Before a wedding there must be an engagement. Before Easter there must be a Good Friday. Before Christmas there is Advent. And before Christ comes, we must wait.

From the very earliest days of Christianity, the Church has awaited our Lord's second coming with a sense of immanence. The purpose of waiting is to make ourselves ready. St. Paul tells us in the second reading, "it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand" (Rom 13:11-12).

We wait. And we prepare.

The semester at WCU is almost over. You will all be doing a lot of preparing in the coming days; preparing for exams, preparing to return home, preparing to celebrate the holidays. In the midst of your year-end preparations, do not neglect to prepare your heart for the advent of Christ. 

St. Paul warns us that the time for the "works of darkness" are over. "The night is advanced, the day is at hand," he says. "Let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and lust, not in rivalry and jealousy" (Rom 13:12-13). Enough of that nonsense. We are better than that. We are Christians.

Jesus implores us in the gospel reading, "Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come... So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come" (Mt 24:42-44).

Jesus is coming. Are you prepared? Let His advent reign in your heart. Never forget -- He is worth waiting for.


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