Everybody have a happy Thanksgiving? Can’t wait till Christmas?
Christmas is a wonderful day to look forward to. It is a day of enormous spiritual delight. I can’t wait for Christmas, either.
I am sorry to have to tell you this, though. When Christmas Day comes in three and a half weeks, our waiting will not be over. To reach the everlasting Christmas Day, we have to wait until the end of time.
This pilgrim life on earth is above all a matter of waiting.
Don’t get me wrong—it is good to keep busy in the meantime. Staying busy keeps us out of trouble. But a Christian’s main job in this life is to wait.
What are we doing right now? Isn’t the Holy Mass a matter of waiting, waiting for the final consummation of what Christ has begun?
Listen to this sentence from the Mass. It comes right after the consecration:
“Father, calling to mind the death your Son endured for our salvation, His glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven, and ready to greet Him when He comes again, we offer you in thanksgiving this holy and living sacrifice.”
We say that we are “ready to greet Him.” This means: waiting patiently, watching out for Him to come.
So, we are waiting. Do we know what we are waiting for? One of the interesting things about waiting for something is that we both know what we are waiting for, and we don’t know.
On the one hand, we know that we are waiting for the consummation of the Kingdom of Christ. The Lord’s Kingdom has already been established. God became man and suffered and died to liberate the human race from slavery to the devil and to give us the gift of eternal life.
The Lord Jesus took care of saving us a long time ago. The world waited for many millennia for Him to come, and then He did. All the ancient prophecies were fulfilled, and the New and Everlasting Covenant began two thousand years ago.
So, because the Lord has revealed Himself partially already, we know something about what we are waiting for. If we didn’t—if we did not know that the good Lord Jesus will come back again in glory when everything is said and done—if we had no idea what was coming in the future–how would we deal with that? What would we do with ourselves? If there were just this world as it is now, and nothing else? If we had nothing to look forward to?
We would be wretched, miserable. We would destroy ourselves one way or the other, slowly or quickly, if we had nothing to wait for, if this life were it.
So the Lord has revealed to us what we absolutely need to know. But He has not yet revealed Himself fully. It was not the Lord’s will to consummate everything immediately when He came.
He could have revealed Himself fully then. He could have come and ended history in one fell swoop. He could have brought heaven to earth right off the bat and eliminated all evil from the world in an instant.
God could shape history any way He wants. The fact is, though, that He has done things the way He has done them. He has revealed Himself partially for now. So, while we are not completely in the dark, we really do not know the half of just how beautiful and splendid God actually is and what His Kingdom is going to be like.
St. Paul referred to the fact that God is only partially revealed to us in our second reading. He wrote: God’s grace has enriched us with every spiritual gift, “as we wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 1:7)
We know the Lord well enough to love Him. In our mind’s eyes, we can see the face of Christ, gentle, strong, and good. God lets us know Him through His humanity in Christ. But the human face of God is just the first glimpse of the infinite depths of the beauty of His divinity. We await that revelation. It will be worth waiting for.
Can’t wait till Christmas? Waiting is hard. Waiting means acknowledging that we are not in control.
We human beings get used to thinking we run the show. We are like big sugardaddies compared to other creatures, like dogs and cats. Dogs and cats have to wait on us to feed them and do other things for them. But we do not have the sugar to give to ourselves. We have to wait on God.
Being made to wait like this is so difficult to endure that we simply could not do it if God did not help us to do it. We pray throughout this holy season before Christmas for the grace of persevering patience. We pray that God will get us ready for the final day. We will read this prayer of St. Paul at Holy Mass in two weeks: “May the God of peace make you perfectly holy and blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Thessalonians 5:23) If we are patient, the day we are waiting for will come.