-- "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." Waiting. And "Blessed
are all who wait for the Lord." Today's readings tell us that we are
blessed in this blessed season. So why do I slide off into feeling
rushed and pressed and lonely and frantic?
All the advertisements and mailings and invitations and recipes and decorations
can say "Hurry! Go and do! Spend and spend more!" and worse,
"You haven't done enough," and worst, "Unless you get this and that, unless
you go further and do more, you won't be right. You won't be loved."
What terrible messages from the well-meant trappings of a blessed season!
Today's readings counteract the anxieties drummed up by our culture's materialism,
while encouraging the real goodness that Advent evokes in us. The reading
from Isaiah promises abundance, with God giving the rain, the harvest, and
the healing we need. >From that abundance we give in turn, as Matthew
tells how Jesus authorized his disciples to serve other people. He
had compassion on the "harassed and helpless," the "troubled and abandoned"
of the crowds (they sound like tired Christmas shoppers!), and he sent out
his laborers to proclaim "The Kingdom of heaven is near!"
As we have received God's love "without cost," we are able to give "without
cost." This does not mean that the gift being shipped from Amazon-dot-com
won't show up on the credit card bill, but it does remind us that we are
loved and loved abundantly, and we are able to love abundantly -- freely,
joyfully -- in return.
Advent. Waiting. Waiting as ever, but with ever more certain hope.