Daily Reflection
December 6th, 2004
Ray Bucko, S.J.
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

My youngest sister Pamela could talk a starving dog off a meat truck, sell ice to an Inuit, pick your pocket and convince you that you really wanted to give her that money but you just failed to think of it.  Thus my other two sisters and I make Pam, the youngest in the family, our family negotiator.  If we wanted something, especially from our father, we would go through Pam.

One year Pam decided that she wanted her Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve rather on Christmas morning.  Now this new fangled custom was gradually taking root in Bayonne but my father, a staunch traditionalist, insisted that Christmas take place on Christmas morning – besides he was obliged to wish season’s greetings and cheer to the boys at the K of C up on 30th Street  (Knights of Columbus for those unfamiliar with this institution) and that was where he would be seen for at least part of Christmas Eve. 

Well, Pam began working on my father around the beginning of advent and we all watched and listened.  Normally Pam could land my father with a few casts of her fishing rod but this took days, nay weeks.  In fact Pam never did convince my father that it would be better to receive our gifts on Christmas Eve.  Just as negotiations were breaking down my father cut a deal.  He could never say “NO” to his beloved Pamela so he decided that she could have one gift on Christmas Eve.  Pamela immediately dubbed this her “preview” and was satisfied with her partial victory.  Somehow she forgot that her siblings might enjoy a preview too! 

Every year Pam would get her preview and the rest of us would cash in the next morning – only Pam got the preview as she was the only one willing to step up to bat with my father pitching.  My father could pitch and Pam would swing at anything. 

Our readings today give us two models for Advent waiting – the long term and the short; the patient and the precipitous.  Pam would have been the first to be lowered down from the roof just for a “preview” from Jesus (and she would have enlisted her brother and two sisters to do the lowering too).  But when it came to the entire Christmas wealth she had to take the patience route as all her cajoling would not budge my father (except for a little bit). 

Isaiah talks of a transformation that will come in the future: total, spectacular and cosmic.  Luke is focused in his story on immediate returns—get in there, get cured and head home for 10 frames of bowling at the K  of  C! 

Advent is not about privileging one form of waiting above another but in being able to discern when to use which kind of waiting, patient endurance or abrupt insistence.  Faith in Isaiah is to know the vision and wait for its fulfillment.  Faith in Luke is to push your way in and let Jesus know what you need and when you want it. 

Both are admirable in their right places. 

Advent is the season of waiting.  We need “previews,” hints of the bounty and transformation to come, but we need to look to the larger vision too.  We need to walk through the desert and imagine the transformation and we need to lower ourselves through the roof and ask for transformation NOW too. 

Thank God for negotiators like Pam.

And Thank God for Previews!

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