November 28, 2008

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Learn to wait patiently this Advent

Sean GallagherWe are a people who don’t like to wait.

When we are ready to check out at the grocery store, we keep a sharp eye out for the shortest cashier line.

We are willing to pay hundreds of dollars or more to get a new computer that will boot up or run software just seconds faster than our old model.

We know what we want, and we want it now.

Is that too much to ask for?

We would have had a tough time living in ancient Israel.

For generation after generation, the Israelites carried with them the promise that the Lord made to them far in the past that he would send them a Messiah.

And yet centuries came and centuries went without that Savior appearing.

Like us, they seemed not to like having to wait so long. In various psalms, we hear the pleas of those long-suffering Israelites, “How long, oh Lord, how long?”

But, despite a long record of infidelities, the people of Israel always repented, came back to the Lord and continued to wait … and wait … and wait for that glorious day of the Lord when his Anointed—his Christ—would come.

Of course, we believe that he came in the person of Jesus, born long ago in Bethlehem.

But, as Christians, we are still like the people of Israel in that we are waiting for Christ’s glorious return.

Waiting is a big part of what Advent is all about.

It is important for us to have a whole season to remind us of this reality since we dislike waiting so much. And since we, as the Church, have been keeping vigil for so long for Christ’s return, it is easy for us to forget altogether that we are a people who are supposed to be waiting.

When we know what we want and we want it now, it is hard to live our life of faith with Christ’s return at the end of the world, the parousia, in mind.

And yet waiting is a big part of the lives of your family and mine. And this waiting can help us enter more fully into the waiting of our lives of faith.

When a husband and wife are expecting a baby, they know that he or she will come into the world in about nine months. But the exact day of the arrival, in many cases, remains a mystery until it dawns.

Married couples bearing the burden of infertility face an even more uncertain future. Will God bless us with a child? If so, when?

All of us need to show these couples our support and keep them in our prayers, keeping vigil with them spiritually.

Many parents, even before their children are born, wonder what their future will be like.

From time to time, we might wonder what they will become, who God, from all eternity, has called them to be.

Will my son be a husband and a father and hopefully a better one than I am?

Has God called him to be a priest?

Will my daughter became a wife and a mother, or has God asked her to devote her life wholly to him in a special way in consecrated life?

We might ask these questions from time to time as our children grow from infancy to their teenage years.

But we will have to wait a long time, likely for decades, before we will be given the answer to these questions.

And so, during this Advent, we parents need to be patient, to live life at God’s pace, and to teach our children to do the same. †

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