Monday of the First Week of Advent
(Isaiah 4:2-6, Psalm 122, Matthew 8:5-11)
During Advent we are to wait patiently and purposefully but also with anticipation for the coming of the Lord. Since most people busy themselves with commerce and revelry in December, we are challenged to appreciate the import of these adverbs.
We wait patiently by reflecting on the significance of Christ’s coming. We mean, of course, his return in glory at the end of time when he will show himself to be what we have claimed all along – the eternal Son of God who has redeemed humanity. When he comes, all nations will recognize him as “Lord” as the centurion does in the gospel passage today.
Of course, we want to be recognized as faithful subjects upon his arrival. Thus, we purposefully follow his commands daily. Isaiah envisions many coming for instruction in the Lord’s way. He says that they will learn to spend their resources on instruments that build up rather than tear down. Christians understand this vision realized in the preaching of Jesus of Nazareth. A third of the world now follows his message of mercy, not resistance; charity, not self-aggrandizement.
Waiting with anticipation seems to conflict with waiting patiently. After all, when we anticipate something, we want to see it now. Nevertheless, there is coherence between the two terms. Since we realize that Jesus will probably not yet return in full glory, we tune up our ears and enhance our sights to discern how to perceive his presence in the world today. It is like standing on tip-toes for a glimpse of the new president in parade. In this way we see Christ in the poor, in the generosity of others, and -- most of all – in the Eucharistic offering. This anticipation resembles the eagerness of the holy people to enter Jerusalem in the responsorial psalm.