The Christmas season is filled with anticipation for some, loneliness for others, and for still others, stress generated by impossible deadlines on their "To Do” and “To Buy” lists. For all of us, however, the four weeks of Advent can help us reflect on our relationship with the sacred reality of TIME.
As we wait for the celebration of Christmas, the Advent Liturgy and hymns often remind us: “The Lord does not delay his promise as some regard ‘delay,’ but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pt. 3:9). By making us wait God is actually giving us a gift, the gift of time. And we all know how precious time is. We come face to face with this reality when we lose a loved one and can no longer spend time with them, or when we have a health crisis, or every year when our birthday rolls around again.
But waiting is the gift of time. The grace of Advent is to have this special time of year to wait for the Lord, to prepare our hearts and to increase our yearnings and anxious expectation for his coming. If Advent was only one day what could we get done? We need time to get ready, externally with all the preparations, but even more internally so that we will be ready to receive Jesus when He comes.
Even in our modern, fast-paced lives, there are many times we have to wait. We wait for the light to change and the traffic to start moving. We wait in lines at the bank or grocery store. We wait in doctors’ offices for appointments or for friends to show up. We wait for apps to load on our cell phones and for music or ebooks to download from websites. We wait for our computers to start up, log off or reboot. Is waiting a waste of time, sheer frustration or something else?
In one city where I was stationed, drivers were constantly honking on the road. If the light turned green and you didn’t start moving in three seconds, they would start honking behind you. Did you ever count how many traffic lights you encounter on the way to work? What would happen if we looked at the stop and go traffic signals in a new “light” the next time we’re on the road. If the light turns red, consider we’re not really waiting for the light to change, we’re waiting for the Savior to come. It’s a moment to pray, to ask, to seek him. If the light turns green, the Lord is coming. Let’s go out to meet him.
If we could see waiting as the gift of time, our perspective would change. Waiting could be a moment to take a deep breath and reflect on the blessings we have received and thank God for the gift of life we enjoy. Whether it’s Advent or not, time is given to so that we can change our lives and turn to God if we have taken the wrong road..
Sometimes you hear the expression “killing time,” as if time was something to get rid of or throw away. So what could we or should we be doing with our time anyway? St. Peter goes on to say: “What sort of persons ought you to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God…” (2 Pt. 3:11-12). If we have time on our hands, just look around. There is always someone who needs a helping hand. We can visit a sick relative or volunteer at the local soup kitchen. Maybe it’s just a matter of picking up the phone and speaking to someone we haven’t talked to in a long time. The other day I got a phone call from my Aunt Kay. She is 92 years old and such an amazing woman. She keeps herself busy and is always talking about her children, her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren. She’s not wasting time. what about going to Mass or making a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, reading the Bible or praying a rosary
The gift of oneself, of one’s time, is the best gift we give ourselves and others. So what are we waiting for?
by Sr. Elizabeth Marie DeDomenico