Today begins the Season of Advent. Advent is a time of preparation and waiting. It is a time when we focus on the coming of the Lord. We are preparing our hearts for the coming of the Messiah.
A few years ago I was given the most amazing gift – a paid trip to the Holy Land. When we got to Israel, our tour guide said something that really impacted not only my trip but has also changed how I celebrate Advent. He said, ‘If you have come here to see beautiful places and artifacts, you have completely wasted your time, because America has more beautiful places; but, if you have come like the three wise men, searching for the great King to bring meaning and understanding to your being and wanting to live in the reality of the King…then you have come with the right mindset.’
Advent became important to me because I realized that I was getting caught up in the wrong things and that Advent had become a waste of time. I see this a lot in our culture. Every year, people start to get ready for Christmas. We spend long hours and lots of money making our homes bright and shiny and work tirelessly trying to find the right gifts for our families and friends. Many times we get so caught up in the things we want for Christmas, or the joy of having extended vacation, that we miss the real point of Advent and Christmas. We need to participate in the anticipation of the coming of Christ so that we will be prepared when that day comes.
In the first reading today, the Lord is giving hope to the people, telling them that the days are coming when He will fulfill the promise He made. The people were waiting on their Savior with great anticipation!
Jesus reminds us in the Gospel that we need to be vigilant in our waiting. We must be ready for Him to return!
During this season of Advent, let us prepare our hearts with that same hope; that same anticipation; that same longing as our ancestors had long ago!