As a kid, Christmas is about one thing: presents. Thinking back to the days of our youth, everyone can recall a Christmas where you were hoping and dreaming for a very specific Christmas present. Maybe it was a bike, or a video game, or a Red Ryder carbine-action two hundred shot Range Model BB gun with a compass in the stock. Your parents were busy decorating the house and cleaning it up to make it presentable for guests they were expecting. They were sweeping, maybe cleaning out a closet in the guest bedroom, polishing the furniture, dusting, and mopping. But you, your mind was elsewhere. It was laser focused on the specifics of what you wanted. And just about everyone can recall a Christmas where after waiting and waiting, you opened your presents to find that you didn’t get exactly what you wanted. Maybe the bike was blue instead of red, or the video game was the wrong one. Or maybe you didn’t get any BB gun at all. After all that waiting, you were left secretly disappointed in the middle of a mountain of wrapping paper, surrounded by gifts.
Waiting a month or a few can sometimes be difficult for a kid who wants something earnestly. Yet imagine if there was one thing that was so special, it was the one thing you wanted every Christmas. And imagine if every year, you never got it. With every wrapped box that was about the right size and shape and weight your hopes were lifted, and every year you were left waiting for next year. How hard would it be to wait another year. Or two. Or ten. Or fifty.
For a thousand years, the Jews were waiting for their Messiah, their Christ. They were expecting a new, powerful king like David, an anointed one who would free the Israelites from their oppressors and who would reunite Israel, restore its fortunes, and lift it to be a nation above all nations. They were expecting a conqueror who would restore worldly and political fortune to Israel. They were expecting a lion, and instead they got a lamb. So, surrounded by gifts, they kept waiting. And they still are.
As Christians, we have already received the gifts that God gave us through His only begotten Son, Jesus. We have been given the gift of freedom from the oppression of sin. We have been given the gift of being able to be reunited with God in Heaven. We have been given the gift of being able to conquer death. Instead of a Red Ryder BB gun, we have been given the gift of a savings bond worth more than all the riches and political power here on earth, but it is payable only on our holy death.
As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said in 2008: “In the language of the Church the word Advent has two meanings: presence and anticipation. Presence: the light is present, Christ is the new Adam, he is with us and among us. His light is already shining and we must open the eyes of our hearts to see the light and to enter into the river of light. Above all we must be grateful for the fact that God himself entered history as a new source of good. But Advent also means anticipation. The dark night of evil is still strong. And therefore in Advent we pray with the ancient People of God: ‘Rorate caeli desuper’. And we pray insistently: come Jesus; come, give power to light and to good; come where falsehood, ignorance of God, violence and injustice predominate. Come Lord Jesus, give power to the good in the world and help us to be bearers of your light, peacemakers, witnesses of the truth. Come, Lord Jesus!”
We are not waiting for our Messiah to come; we are waiting for Him to come again. We don’t know when that will be. After all, no man will know the day nor the hour. But we know if we wait long enough, it will happen. Christ will come again. So if it doesn’t happen today, with every day that passes, the odds of it happening tomorrow only get higher. Are you ready if tomorrow is the day? This is what Advent is all about. Is your heart ready? Is your soul ready? Is your family ready? Have you made yourself and those you love presentable to the Lord? Have you swept out the corners of your soul, gotten rid of all the cobwebs, thrown out all the useless trash and clutter and sin and vice? Is there a place in your heart for our Christ to sit? Is it clean? Is it presentable?
Are you ready for when our wait will be over?