together with the plane tree and the pine,
That all may see and know,
observe and understand,
That the hand of the Lord has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has created it.
- Isaiah 41:19b-20
Advent is a season of tension. It is a time to reflect on promises fulfilled, but somehow still incomplete. This built-in tension of Advent reflects the experience of waiting and expectation that is an essential part of life. When we think of a child counting the days until Christmas or listen to the hopes and excitement of parents awaiting the birth of a child, we can see the frustration (and even pain) that goes with expectation. Unfortunately, however, many people today live lives that are almost always oriented toward the next thing: we love novelty and distractions so much, that we often forget about the gift of the present moment. Advent isn’t only about the past and the future, it is also a season that invites us to see what God is doing at this moment.
If we spend our lives always looking into some far-distant future, always scanning the horizon for signs and wonders, then we can miss the miracles of the present moment. More often than we think, God comes to us in the people and things of our lives and this is all part of the recreation of the world that is an essential part of the promise of Advent.
When Saint Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan imprisoned in the concentration camp at Auschwitz because of his opposition to Nazism, offered to die in place of a condemned husband and father, he recognized that God was calling him to make the most of that moment—a moment to be Christ for another person that would never come again.
The Communion Antiphon for the Mass of Thursday of the Second Week of Advent reminds us: "Let us live justly and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, and the coming of the glory of our great God" (cf. Titus 2:12-13). Wait. Live in the tension of Advent. Watch, because he is coming to you today.
A Prayer for Thursday of the Second Week of Advent +
Stir up our hearts, O Lord,
to make ready the paths
of your Only Begotten Son,
that through his coming,
we may be found worthy to serve you
with minds made pure.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)