The season of Advent is a time set apart to allow us to prayerfully anticipate the Incarnation. The changing of the season should allow us to enter more deeply into this sacred time. The readings for Advent remind us of God’s steadfast faithfulness throughout the generations. In this way, we remember all the times God told the faithful that we are not alone. It’s a wonderfully rich liturgical season. In almost every aspect we are given the opportunity to embrace the quiet and grow closer to God.
Except, in reality, this season is full of chaos and noise. The noise of students and teachers preparing, completing, and grading final exams. The chaos of shopping and making travel arrangements for Christmas family gatherings. Human service agencies working overtime to meet the increased need from the most vulnerable in society.
In my 34 years on earth I feel that I have never gotten the opportunity to fully quiet down and experience Advent for all that it offers. I can only catch glimpses of quiet in the dark mornings with a cup of coffee in my hand. Then my mind shifts to all the things I have to do during the day. It’s also difficult to live in hope when it’s in the single digits and dark outside. All I can do is a quick prayer to ask God to bless the mess and off I go.
Fortunately, as a graduate student at Catholic Theological Union, I have had the opportunity to learn about the New and Old Testaments from world class scholars. From an academic perspective I have a whole new understanding of the scriptures.
In the season of Advent, the readings tell us of God’s wish for us and what God will do to help us get there. In the first reading on the first Sunday, God speaks through the prophets that a new way of being in the world is taking shape. From the book of Isaiah: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares / and their spears into pruning hooks; / one nation shall not raise the sword against another, / nor shall they train for war again. / O house of Jacob, come, / let us walk in the light of the Lord!” (Isaiah: 2:1-5) In the Gospels, Jesus exclaims, “Stay awake!” We need to be prepared to live out the Gospel mission at all times. (Matthew 24:37-44) Each week’s reading just builds on the theme of God’s hope – and preparing the way for Jesus dwelling among us.
In this season we remember and celebrate God’s words and actions throughout history. My hope is that with this newfound understanding of the scripture, I can finally pray with this sacred season and prepare my heart for Jesus. My prayer is for all of us to take the time to do the same. The messiness of our lives can wait.