Have you ever accidentally or intentionally “found” your Christmas present(s) prior to Christmas? If so, did it affect your period of waiting? How? As I reflect on the meaning of Advent, a childhood memory came to me of when I “found” the unwrapped little red purse in my mom’s closet. What I remember most from that experience is how the anticipation and excitement had diminished. I was disappointed that I had found what I thought I wanted to know.
There is something wonderful to be said about the season of Advent. The Church in her wisdom provides us with this first season of the Christian church year, which leads up to Christmas. We continue on this Monday of the Third Week of Advent in our period of waiting or anticipating the coming or second coming of Christ. As we turn to the first reading today, I try to imagine myself in the midst of the Israelites while they are camped on the plains of Moab across the Jordan from Jericho. They haven’t yet crossed the Jordan to claim the promised land. The king of Moab (Balak) is rightly concerned that the Israelites are coming to conquer his people. Balak has asked Balaam to curse the Israelites. Balak doesn’t want the Israelites to be a threat. Balaam blesses the Israelites rather than curses them and says, “A star shall advance from Jacob, and a staff shall rise from Israel.” While Balaam is talking about King David who eventually did conquer the holy land, these same words are eventually used in the Gospel of Matthew to teach about Jesus. The Old Testament is the first Advent.
The waiting, anticipation and excitement experienced by myself as a child for the opening of presents on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning doesn’t compare to the waiting, anticipation and excitement of the gift of Jesus. This is why I try to be purposeful in making the effort during this season to enter into a deeper relationship with God. Quite honestly when I don’t (and there are certainly times when I haven’t), the outcome is something like how I felt as a child when I “found” my unwrapped Christmas present. There is the disappointment that I missed out on the anticipation and excitement during the waiting.
So my post has tried to provide some encouragement for all of us to “find” the time to enter more deeply into our relationships with God. Hopefully on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, the present of Jesus will be more meaningful!
Creighton University Daily Reflection