Saturday, 01 December 2012 13:27
Since advent means coming or arrival, it involves waiting. To wait connotes absence seeking presence; beginnings yearning for consummation; inadequacy wanting satisfaction, incompletion searching for wholeness.
We wait for the other. We wait for another who can drink with us from our cup of joy and cup of sorrow; another for whom we might each be a balm to our loneliness; another who will allow us to love and be loved. If to be human is to be relational, we become more fully human to the extent that we are able to mutually give and receive the gift of ourselves. However, throughout our lives, we are constantly waiting for the other or others with whom we might enter into a deeper and deeper exchange of selves.
Moreover, having to wait for another painfully reveals to us that we do not have control over the other. We cannot program others according to our expectations; we cannot manipulate others to fulfill our every desire or solicitation. We are inescapably vulnerable before the freedom of the other. And even though our intentions may be good and noble, we cannot impose them on the other, not even on those we love.
Accepting the autonomy of the other is difficult. Accepting our inability to make the right or good decisions for those we love is painful. We can only propose. And then wait. One of our deepest pains is watching our loved ones self-destruct as he or she rejects not only our good intentions, but also our love. But to genuinely love is to recognize the other’s autonomy and freedom to reject us. And so, love that can only be offered can only await the free response of the beloved.
We wait for ourselves. When weary, we wait for our bodies to be refreshed; when infirm, we wait for them to recuperate. When hurting, we wait for our aches to heal. When enraged, we wait for our anger to dissipate. Often, we have to wait for ourselves. And very often our waiting comes to an end. We recover; we are healed; we find our bearings once more.
But at times, our waiting for ourselves seems endless and becomes frustrating. We want to forgive, but we cannot force ourselves. We do not want to become envious, yet can’t help being so. We do not want to be infatuated with another person, but we cannot program our hearts not to. We know a vice is ruining our lives, but we realize our will power is not enough to overcome our compulsions. We wait…and in many instances, that which we wait for remains elusive, ever beyond our reach.
We also wait for God. We wait for God to intervene in our lives and bring about wholeness and happiness. We wait for God to reenter our world and bring about reconciliation and solidarity. We await God’s mercy and justice to finally reign and transform our world. We await the consummation of the Lord’s redemptive plans for the world. cards-005
In prayer, we learn especially to wait for God. At times, we knock, but heaven’s door seemingly remains unopened; we cry out to God, but our pleas appear to fall on deaf ears. In our solitude, we achingly wait for God to speak, for God to make His presence felt. We painfully wait for God, the absolute incomprehensible Mystery to show us His face.
Advent, the season of waiting, primarily means the coming of the Lord, “The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah.” The Lord has come in Jesus Christ. But the Lord comes again and again. We need the Lord to come again and again, to be born anew in every person, in every cranny of the world, in every period of history.
This Advent Season, let us identify what we are waiting for. Let us distinguish between waiting that requires active seeking and doing, and waiting that necessitates humility and acceptance of vulnerability. Let us distinguish between waiting for the superfluous and waiting for the profound, between waiting for the satisfaction of egotistic desires and the fulfillment of legitimate needs. And in the very act of waiting, let us recognize the presence of the Lord. May we glimpse the Lord in our very aching, in the Lord who waits and aches for us.
First Sunday of Advent 2012