Sunday, December 8, 2013

What are you waiting for?

Her heart started beating faster as he walked down the aisle in her direction. "Don't make eye contact and he'll leave you alone," she thought.

He reached out her hand toward her. Me?

His gesture was obvious. Yes. You.

It was the first week of advent; my wife was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with our first child. The priest was notorious for randomly selecting people to answer questions or be part of his demonstrations. He kept us all on our toes.

As the two of them stood in front of the children who were about to be sent to children's liturgy, the priest used his very pregnant, very nervous guest as an example of someone waiting for something.

"What's she waiting for?" he asked the children.

The chorus of little voices responded, "She's going to have a baby."

"How can you tell?" was the follow-up, or set-up.

"Because she's fat," chimed in one innocent little voice, getting a hearty laugh from the congregation.

Two weeks later, the priest walked down the same aisle. This time to select a sleeping baby as his volunteer. He reminded everyone of the pregnant lady a couple weeks earlier and proudly held up our sweet little peanut—the wait was over, the joy realized, the hope fulfilled.

As new parents, we had no idea what was ahead. Sure, we read the books, we took the classes, we felt prepared. But any parent will tell you, that doesn't really get you ready. What lies ahead is unique for each parent, or each family. You have to experience and learn things in due time to grow into your role as parents.

So too goes the season of advent. It's a time to prepare for Christ to come—to remember His birth and to wait for Him to come again with hope. We can (and should) pray, read, go to Mass, serve in joyful anticipation. But the true preparation comes with the experience of advent, the experience of Christ and His saving love, the experience of His birth in your life every day. No book, can prepare you for the change Jesus wants to make in your life.

Just as a birth needs to take place for an expectant mother's anticipation, joy and hope to be fulfilled, the birth of the Christ child—literally and figuratively—needs to take place in each of us for the anticipation of advent to be fulfilled.

The question we each should answer is, "What are you waiting for this advent?" Are you merely waiting for the hustle and bustle of the season to be over? Are you waiting to experience the same thing you have for the past several years? Are you waiting for food and drink? Are you waiting for family and friends? Are you waiting for Jesus to be born anew in your life and to experience life like never before?

What lies beyond advent is a unique journey for each of us. May we prepare well, and experience life to its fullest.

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