Father David's Reflection for the First Saturday of Advent
The Responsorial Psalm tells us who will find fulfillment: “Blessed are all who wait for the Lord!” (Isaiah 30:18
and Psalm 147).
Why is longing so important?
Isaiah 30: 19-26 tells us it is because the Lord can answer the prayers of those who really want them answered – if they are praying for what is important. “He will be gracious to you when you cry out. As soon as he hears he will answer you.” But we have to “cry out.” God has to hear urgency in our voices.
If we ask for true fulfillment in life — for light to see what we should do and for strength to do it — and really want what we ask for, God can give it to us. But if we don’t really want to be fulfilled — if we just want a halfway satisfying life on earth — then when Jesus offers us “life to the full” we won’t accept it.
If we say we want God’s guidance but really just want him to lead us down a path we have already chosen, then when God writes out the directions for us in Scripture we won’t read them. Then Jesus himself will be unable to guide us into happiness and fulfillment. He won’t be able to answer our prayers. We have to want what we pray for (and we can pray for this too!)
We also have to be willing to accept Jesus’ help, no matter how he gives it.
Matthew 9:35 to 10:8 tells us that “at the sight of the crowds, Jesus’ heart was moved to pity…because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” He wanted to respond to their need, but knew that alone he could not. So he “summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority to expel unclean spirits, and to cure every sickness and disease.”
Then he sent them out with instructions to do what he was doing: “proclaim the good news…. Cure the sick, raise the dead, heal the lepers, expel demons.” Jesus can, and will fix whatever is wrong with the world. He can do it through his Church, his disciples. But people have to accept them. All the members of his Church have sins. If Jesus wants to help us badly enough to use sinful people, we have to want his help badly enough to accept it from them.
Jesus only sent his disciples to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” If any place was not ready to hear the Good News, the disciples should not announce it there. The Good News is a gift given freely, but it can only be given to those who want to receive it. The Jews had been prepared by centuries of Scripture and God-guided history. It took the death and resurrection of Jesus to open up the rest of the world. What opened me?
“Happy are all who long for the coming of the Lord!” The Lord will come to them! He will come because they long for him.
Initiative: If you seek fulfillment, seek it where it can be found. Long for Jesus. If you want Jesus to come to you more deeply during the Christmas season, to make himself more real to you, to let you experience “the warmth of his love” and “the light of his Word,” the key to receiving him is desiring him. How badly do you want him? What do you want him for? When did this begin in you?
This is what the season of Advent is for: to focus our hearts on our desires. Advent invites us to ask ourselves what it is we really want out of life.
It is a time to stop following blindly the beaten path of culture; a time to take our bearings, to look up to the heavens and chart a course by the stars — by the “fixed star,” which is Jesus. “To you, my God, I lift up my soul…”
Advent is an invitation to prepare the way of the Lord. Decide how you will do it.
Father in heaven, our hearts desire the warmth of your love and our minds are searching for the light of your Word. Increase our longing for Christ our Savior and give us strength to grow in love, that the dawn of his coming may find us rejoicing in his presence and welcoming the light of his truth. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.