Catechetical Spot

Advent Waiting

Waiting is not valued in our society. While driving we have probably all had the experience of being followed very closely by someone who is not in favor of waiting for anything.  The driver wants to quickly pass and continue at a speed that is not in keeping with the marked miles per hour.  Waiting in a grocery line causes consternation and frustration.  Waiting for someone at a meeting or for a luncheon date causes further frustration.  No, waiting is not valued according to modern thought, and yet can there be value in waiting?

As I thought about the coming Advent Season, I recognized that this busy time of year does not lend itself well to waiting and yet waiting is valuable as we prepare to celebrate the Incarnation.  God had entered into human existence through his son, Jesus Christ and continues to be present among us. We should spend time pondering this great event, waiting with joyful anticipation for the celebration of the Nativity.

Well known spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen, tells us this about waiting.  “Waiting is essential to the spiritual life.” We need to wait with patience.  Nouwen tells us that waiting comes from the Latin verb patior which means “to suffer.”  He claims that “waiting patiently always means paying attention to what is happening right before our eyes and seeing there the first rays of God’s glorious coming.”  We need to suffer through the present to reach the future.

Simone Weil, a Jewish writer, said, “Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life.”  And so we learn to wait.  We wait until our fears pass, we wait until illness becomes bearable, we wait until a broken relationship mends or is accepted.  We wait in anticipation for something to change.  As we wait we are challenged to “…stand erect and raise our heads because your redemption is at hand.”  Luke 21: 25-28,34-36.  (First Sunday of Advent)  We wait with patience and with trust that God’s goodness is indeed revealed in the birth of Jesus Christ.

~by Helen Ackermann