Typically, the Fourth Sunday of Advent occurs only days before Christmas. This year, the calendar is gracious to Christians giving them another week to prepare for the holy day which remembers the great gift of God sending his Son to redeem the world.
A lot can happen in a week, and the time spent on the final spiritual preparation should not be ignored. Hopefully we have made some progress this Advent, and the additional time is most welcome to wrap (no pun intended) some of the loose ends. A quick review of where we started our journey and where we hope to go will prove helpful. Our guides are two holy women who uniquely lived out to the fullest the first Advent.
God’s word informs us, “Mary set out in haste, to a town in Judah, where she entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth.” It is quite fitting that on this final week of our Advent, we come across these two pregnant women. What better teachers can we have than the mother of St. John the Baptist and the mother of God.
Mary, a young girl, who in the eyes of many was pregnant and not yet married. Elizabeth, an old lady, too old, they say to become pregnant, “she who was thought to be sterile is now in her sixth month.
It all began, you remember, with a promise– a promise of new life sprouting forth, “I will raise up for David a just shoot.” A promise, like all true promises, is predicated on what is to come, and what can be expected. Humanity’s longing began, a life lost wishing to be regained. The divine promise made all too obvious humanity’s emptiness. And the emptiness suddenly noticed, only served to magnify the longing.
As the days of Advent progressed, we noticed this longing began to change us. New life always changes the world. The longing for life throws light into the darkness and emptiness of death. It sharpens our sense of priority and gives space to new perspectives. It makes us realize what needs to be done, what needs to change. “Make ready the way of the Lord, clear him a straight path.”
After clearing the path, we journeyed into the middle days. We found there the temptations of impatience and anxiety trying to demand our attention. At times, these middle days, either too hectic or too boring, are days which we hope to bypass, days we wish we could skip. But again, our pregnant teachers show us the way; show us the importance of the present time that can frequently go unnoticed. They urged us to “Rejoice,” urged us to cherish the middle time, time which so often seems pointless and wasted.
Indeed, there has been no wasted time. Our longing and emptiness are the conditions for our change in which we recognized that even the most mundane of moments are worthy of rejoicing and treasure. We become aware the promises of God have come true.
This Advent has given us a new found recognition. Now the stage is set for what is to come.
Christ Jesus our Savior is born.