Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.”
Welcome as we begin a new Church year and enter the shortest Advent season in a while.
Advent, a season of expectation and anticipation can last from 22- and 28-days and this is a 22-day one.
I suppose that for a people who are to live in expectation and anticipation a much shorter time to wait is kind of nice. We only have to hear ‘are we there yet’ for 22-days.
A compressed schedule may be experienced in a few different ways. Some might spend the time valuing each day of expectation more deeply. Some might choose to rush through it, not paying too much attention. Some might choose to live frustrated, focused solely on getting ‘there.’
Of course, the Church is solidly recommending that we value each day of expectation more deeply for there are not too many of them.
That recommendation comes from thousands upon thousands of years of experience from the Old Testament period through today. The Holy Spirit guides us in doing what is right and in the end, what is best for us.
The other approaches each diminish our experience of God and thus our lives. Not paying attention, rushing, being frustrated, let’s just get there approaches take our eyes off God and fill us with such unease that we draw into ourselves becoming blind to the very gifts being offered to us.
Jesus enjoins us to be alert, to stay awake and to watch. To be busy about our work for Him.
That command is not about arriving at the goal. Jesus will take care of that, but about our growth as a people confident and trusting in God. That type of attitude leads us to grow into the image of God, to act (it is not about sitting around) by living Jesus’ way most fully, and to deal with those things in us that must change – our very inability to be patient with God’s timeline.
Much of the history of the Old Testament is about waiting and becoming; lessons learned, repentance undertaken, and to be prepared for the Messiah. Speaking of waiting, the time between the last prophet and Jesus was about 500 years of silent waiting, yet each moment had value for growth.
As St. Paul tells us, we have been enriched in the knowledge of Christ so that this time may be grace filled, focused on what we have learned, and engaged in the work that helps us be ready for welcoming Him again.