Daily Reflection
December 18th, 2002
John Schlegel, S.J.
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
Jeremiah 23:5-8
Psalm 72:1, 12-13, 18-19
Matthew 1:18-24

Faith and expectation fill today’s scripture.  Faithful expectation is a central advent theme.  In Jeremiah and Joseph, we have persons of great faith; faith in their God in the midst of the circumstances in which they found themselves.  They are great examples for us as we confront the circumstances of our individual life, our life as a nation or as a global community.  We all need a bit of advent’s faithful expectation.

Jeremiah waited for the coming of the Messiah.  As a prophet of covenant faith, he believed the God of Hebrew scripture would deliver on his promise of sending the Messiah.  But the people must wait for that advent of God in their midst.  Jeremiah tells us with great certitude, a certitude rooted in faith, that the Lord has proclaimed that, “The days are coming when I will raise up for David a righteous branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.”  Coming, yes; but when?  Jeremiah and the people must wait in expectant faith.

Joseph, too, must wait in expectant faith.  Having been told by the angel that his wife-to-be was, “with child by the power of the Holy Spirit,” Joseph accepted that news as a person of faith.  He did as the angel commanded.  He and Mary then waited for the birth of a son, and, “he called him Jesus.”  Joseph waited in faithful expectancy as this divine intervention came to fruition. 

These readings convey the necessity of waiting for God to fulfill the divine plan.  But waiting is something we do not like to do – be it at the ATM machine, a red light, or searching for a parking spot.  Waiting takes patience and some have little of that; it takes time and many claim not to have much of that; and waiting takes faith and here, too, some are deficient.

The reality is that we wait for everything that is worth having.  We wait to be born, to grow, to graduate, to be touched by love.  We wait to die.  Through these life passages we wait for the touch of God in our life.

Today we are a people filled with so many expectations.  We are convinced that somewhere, somehow there is an answer for every problem – AIDS, breast cancer, unemployment, homelessness, or Saddam Hussein.  We wait.

We believe we deserve a savior in every situation and look for one in strange places – technology, politics, wealth; but to no avail.  The wait goes on.

We believe we do not have to be sinners; that some cure can be found for our sinfulness, for our racism, greed, injustice or the violence we do to self or to others.  Here again, we wait.

There is meaning in waiting for any of these hopes and expectations we have.  There is beauty in waiting.  During advent you and the Church are “as one” in this season of faithful expectation.

With hindsight, we know that the expectations of Jeremiah were fulfilled.  We know that the faith of Joseph was instrumental in God’s plan for our salvation.

As women and men of faith, we, too, have many opportunities to put our beliefs into action and to help bring about the fulfillment of what we, indeed, are waiting for.

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