The world is waiting in joyful hope for the release of a vaccine to combat the COVID-19 virus. Parents are waiting in joyful hope for the reopening of schools.
CSEC and CAPE students are waiting for CXC to complete the review of their grades so they could breathe again. Store owners are waiting for the Christmas rush to begin so that their bottom lines could improve. And thousands of nationals abroad are waiting on exemption approvals so they could come home. All of us, in one way or another, are waiting on something or someone. And it is in this period of waiting called Advent that the Church stands in solidarity with all God’s children, waiting for the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
We live in a society that hates to wait. That is because we inherently believe we— individually, each of us—are most important. We want to microwave our lives so what we desire happens immediately. We want gratification now.
This is a symptom of deep-set selfishness as old as Adam and Eve and as current as those who knowingly flout the COVID-19 regulations and abandon even good common sense to host ‘zesser parties’ whether in Caroni or Valsayn. But Advent reminds us that we are not in control; God is.
Advent provides a structure for remembering that the world waited in lonely, cosmic exile until the Messiah, Jesus, arrived to redeem us from our sins and the morass of our own making.
Advent 2020 suggests what was true 2,000 years ago remains true today. We do not set the agenda for our lives; God does. And it is an agenda premised on His unconditional love for His people.
The Advent readings this week remind us of the actions of a loving God who, like a shepherd, will feed His flock, gather His lambs in His arm, and lead His ewes with care.
They remind us of John the Baptist who, in preparing the way for the Christ, acknowledged that he too “was not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals”.
What are you waiting for this Advent? Who are you waiting on this Advent? Maybe, as Catholics, we can demonstrate what is attentive and expectant waiting to our neighbours and friends.
Perhaps by our willingness to be patient with our families; by our willingness to listen to the stories of our elders and the challenges of our youth; by our willingness to forgive others as often as God has forgiven us; perhaps by accepting that “with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day”, we will come to understand the value of waiting and the power of Advent.
As Pope Francis prayed recently: “May the Virgin Mary help us, as we approach Christmas, not to allow ourselves to be distracted by external things, but make space in our hearts for him who has already come and wants to come again to heal our illnesses and give us his joy.”