Advent themes abound in today’s readings. Initially, however,
my mind’s eye is momentarily distracted by the Feast of St.
Nicholas. Growing up in a family that participated in this festival
that allowed us to have candy just once before
Christmas was a source of great joy in a household of six kids,
unless, of course, your shoe housed a potato or a piece of coal!
My second sister’s birthday was the following day, as was
my mother’s and grandmother’s, so our house was always
filled with child-like anticipation. In retrospect, the pieces of
hard candy and fruit far out numbered the pieces of coal! And the
birthday cake the next day eased the sweet fast as we marched towards
Christmas! The anticipation of my childhood was more advent-like
than I knew at the time.
Advent waiting also intensifies joy. In today’s Gospel the people are filled with wonder and amazement and joy when they saw “the mute speaking, the deformed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind able to see, and they glorified the God of Israel.” Why? Because they believed in their hearts that the Messiah had come; that centuries of waiting was fulfilled; divine expectations were realized.
When we have to wait for something, our joy is enhanced when we finally receive the object of our waiting. Born out of waiting and anticipation, delayed gratification increases the gratification. That is an important aspect of the Advent of the Christ.
We know this annual Advent discipline of waiting, expectation and anticipation will nurture within us the response echoed by Isaiah: “Behold our God…this is the Lord for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that He has saved us!”
Indeed, our Advent waiting intensifies as daily we move closer to the fulfillment of our deepest hopes and discover afresh “The Lord for whom we looked…”
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