The Waiting Game
User's Guide to Sunday, Dec. 7
This story has been updated since it went to press.
Sunday, Dec. 7, is the Second Sunday of Advent. Monday, Dec. 8, is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the patronal feast of the United States and a holy day of obligation.
Like most weeks in December, this is a big one for saints. In addition to the Immaculate Conception, Tuesday, Dec. 9, is the feast of St. Juan Diego. He was the Mexican peasant who saw Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast is Friday, Dec. 12. Saturday, Dec. 13, is the feast of St. Lucy, which, like St. Nicholas’ Day (Dec. 6), is celebrated as a day of pre-Christmas cheer in many Catholic cultures.
Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; Psalms 85:9-14; 2 Peter 3:8-14; Mark 1:1-8
Advent is a kind of intense, four-week version of the perpetual waiting that we believers experience.
The First Sunday of Advent gave us the admonition that we should watch and pray as we wait for Jesus Christ. But even while we wait for him, there are two others we are called on to wait for.
This Sunday, the readings promise us not Jesus, but John the Baptist. Today’s first reading describes him, and in today’s Gospel, we start to hear from him — but we have to wait until next week to meet him and hear his full message. His message is that he — like we — is waiting for someone greater.
This week, anticipation builds for another figure: the Blessed Mother. The Church celebrates her throughout the week, but she won’t appear in the Sunday readings until the Fourth Sunday in Advent, and then we will meet her also as a figure who, like us, is waiting for Christ.
St. Peter, in today’s second reading, explains “the waiting game” we undergo not just in Advent but throughout our Christian lives.
He points out that the Lord’s time is not ours. “Do not ignore this one fact, beloved,” he says, “that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.”
We may think the Lord is delaying, he said, but he comes in the fullness of time — which is not a fixed point on our personal timetables.
This shows his patience with us, says Peter. He does not wish “that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
Peter goes on to tell us how we should be behaving while we wait: “conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God.”
We are in an “in-between time” on earth before the Lord comes. The thing to keep in mind is that what we are waiting for is well worth the wait. John tells us he is mightier than he; Christ will baptize with the Holy Spirit, not just water. And St. Peter tells us: “We await new heavens and a new earth.”
Waiting is the real test of a Christian life — and the payoff is amazing.
Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas,
where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.