The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah. In those days, in that time, I will raise up for David a just shoot; he shall do what is right and just in the land. In those days Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure; this is what they shall call her: “The LORD our justice.” (Jeremiah 33:14-16)
Welcome to the season of great expectations. This Thanksgiving weekend, it is estimated that 156 million people will do some form of holiday shopping. In the face of supply line delays and stocking shortages, projections indicate a nearly 70% increase in people making purchases from Black Friday to Cyber Monday. We are awash in advertising and marketing targeted at enticing us as customers with the expectation of finding the latest gadget at discount prices. The long lines which were ubiquitous in a pre-pandemic reality are back, as folks que up in the dim hours of the morning in anticipation of finding bargains. Last year, I recall seeing an interview with a young man who was the last one to purchase the newest gaming console before it sold out. The exuberance that radiated from his face glowed as he described his adventure to procure his treasure, and how he resisted offers to resell it at double and triple the price. He arrived early, kept his focus and rejoiced in his success.
The season of Advent is also a time of great expectation. When we think about Advent expectations, we instinctively consider the historical nativity of the Word made flesh in cave at Bethlehem. However, the expectation of Advent is twofold. First, we anticipate the parousia (Greek for “advent”), the second coming of Christ in glory to judge the world. In the Gospel, Jesus says, “Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to stand before the Son of Man” (Lk. 21:36). Jesus admonition to be alert to his 2nd coming is the basis of our belief in Him as our King and the foundation of our Advent joy.
Second, between the historical and future comings, we prepare for the coming of Christ in our minds and hearts in a personal way. In the first reading, Jeremiah prophesies the advent of the promised Messiah. This promise shaped (and continues to shape) the core of the Jewish faith. God’s promise of a Redeemer directs and focuses all Jewish worship, ritual and covenant. This is why the Old Testament, or Hebrew Scriptures, is still relevant for us as Catholics. Just as Moses and the prophets yearned to see the day of the Messiah, so too, we eagerly wait for the coming of Christ both now and in the future. By looking to the heroes and saints of the past, we learn how to live in the present and prepare for the future. This expectation opens our hearts to receive the gifts God has for us. For this reason, Isaiah says “No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you doing such deeds for those who wait for him.” (Is. 64:3)
As we begin our Advent journey together, we are invited to consider our expectations. If we’re not expecting Christ to come to us this Advent season, chances are we’ll miss out on his presence in the midst of the hustle and bustle of these holidays. One practical way to cultivate a sense of Advent expectation is to make use of the Advent booklets that we offer here at St. Dominic’s. By taking six minutes a day in prayerful reflection, our hearts and minds are open and ready to receive the gift of Christ’s presence in our lives. May this Advent season a time of great expectation as Christ comes to birth in our lives.