2019 - 3rd Sunday of Advent
Reflection by: Kenna Arana - Associate Program Director, ACE Teaching Fellows
Have you ever looked forward to something so much that you almost could not control your excitement?
Perhaps you were eagerly awaiting the return of a loved one. It had been too long, and when you were finally able to embrace once again, you sighed, “At last.” Or perhaps you were anticipating a special event you were excited to attend. You made plans weeks, even months, in advance, and time and time again you uttered the words, “I can’t wait.” Or, like Mary and Joseph, maybe you were preparing to welcome a child into the world. Holding the child, the embodiment of love, in your arms for the first time was a miracle unlike any other you have witnessed.
Throughout Advent, we are filled with excitement in anticipation of the great event–the perfect child we know will be born. In this season, we are reminded to wait patiently and to ready our hearts to encounter and receive Christ: “See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
When reading these words from James, I cannot help but envision a child who desires something so much that he or she has grown restless while waiting. The child cannot stand still and the waiting seems endless. “How much longer?” is the only question on the child’s mind.
As a former high school teacher, I can just as readily recall a classroom full of students, waiting to be dismissed after finishing their last final before Christmas break. The once-quiet classroom has become noisy with the buzz of excitement in the air.
In James’s words, I hear the gentle admonishment of a loving parent, reminding the child to wait calmly, to be patient. We are promised that the fruit will be precious and the wait will be worth it.
On this third Sunday of Advent, “Gaudete Sunday,” we as a Church rejoice and focus our attention on the intense joy that we feel as we draw ever nearer to Christ’s birth. Like fidgety children, we, too, have become almost restless in our waiting. We will celebrate Jesus’s birth in little more than a week, and today, we cannot help but give in to the anticipation and excitement that we have been cultivating since the start of Advent.
Today, we can widen our smiles, throw our heads back with laughter, and exclaim our joy to everyone we meet. As we join together, our hope and especially our joy rise to a fever pitch. We are not individuals, but one body, wholly focused on the joy that will burst forth when we encounter the child who was born to save the world. The best is yet to come, and it is coming soon.
With the rapid approach of Christmas, we are being pushed and pulled in a number of directions. This Sunday, may we unite as one body to share our joy for the approaching arrival of Christ. May we allow the excitement that is coursing through our bodies to spread through a warm greeting or a tender moment spent with God in prayer. May we remember to cultivate cheer and joy not just in our homes, but in our hearts, as we know that Christ is coming to meet us soon.