We wait for Jesus
Little children wait for Jesus in the manger. They long for Christmas. They start even now to dream of twinkling lights and brightly colored presents, of the smell of fresh Christmas trees and incense, of the feeling of trying to stay awake at Midnight Mass, of the food and the friends and the Christmas carols.
Children wait for Jesus to be placed in the manger: for him to be born as a little child, just like them.
Years ago, when the son of one of my oldest friends had just turned three years old (he was at that age when we first appropriate the idea of time) his mother made the mistake of telling him: Just imagine, Sean...soon it will be Christmas!
An hour passed, and little Sean returned from his play...Is it Christmas yet? he asked. No, Sarah, told him. Not for another four weeks. It’s not Christmas yet.
Fifteen minutes passed. And Sean was back, tugging at her skirt. Is it Christmas yet? he asked a bit more insistently. No Sean, I told you it’s not for another four weeks. And then she thought for a moment how she would explain four weeks, but soon gave up the hope.
Fifteen minutes later he returned, tugging and whining and almost in tears. Is it Christmas now? he demanded. No, Sarah told him. And then she swooped him up in her arms, dried his tears, and asked softly: You really want it to be Christmas Sean. You want Jesus to come right now, don’t you? Yes...the words shot out of him as from a canon...I want Jesus to come right now! So do I Sarah, said softly. So do I.
But for now we just have to wait. But waiting is so hard. Whether you’re a little kid waiting for Christmas, or even middle aged.
Even adults wait for Jesus. They long for him to be born in their hearts.
They learn to find him in the sacraments and in the poor, in the one who needs mercy, and in the quiet power of prayer. They look for him in all kinds of other places, too, big places with lots of power and money, but they seldom find him there. For they learn that he dwells mainly in little places, like our hearts.
They learn to let him inside, to eat his body and drink his blood. And they learn that as they wait, it is not so much that they are seeking him, as that he is seeking them. Or, as a wise man once wrote:
"It is he, God-who-is has always been searching for me. By his choice, his relationship with me is presence, as a call, as a guide; he is not satisfied with speaking to me, or showing things to me, or asking things of me. He does much more.
Thus, as we wait, that we learn that we are not in control. Life in the middle years has a way of teaching you that, especially when you don’t want to listen." (Carlo, Caretto, The God Who Comes) We learn that only God is God, and waiting befits our state as creatures. We learn, again, as the wise man wrote, that:
"We must assume an attitude of waiting, accepting the fcat that we are creatures and not creator. We must fo this because it is not our right to anything else; the initiative is God’s, not man’s. Man is able to initiate nothing; he is able only to accept. If God does not call, no calling takes place....
"For I am I, and he is he. I am son, and he is Father. I am the one who waits, and he is the one who comes. I am the one who replies, and he is the one who calls." (Carlo, Caretto, The God Who Comes
And then, in the third age of life, we wait as well. Indeed, the further we get into the last half of life, the more we wait for Jesus in a whole other way.
A few weeks after my closest friend’s mother died, I knew it was gnawing at him, and late one night I asked him, what is it that really that drives you crazy the most about burying the last of your parents? It’s the knowledge, he replied, that I’m next.
The older we get, the closer we are to going home. I used to say I was middle aged. But my sister now tells me I have to cut that out unless I’m going to live to be 116 years of age.
The actuarial tables project that I will die in 21.48 years. That’s 7,840 days and 8 hours. Not that I’m counting.
But I am waiting. I’m waiting each time I get a new twinge or something else stops working or I read one more obituary of someone younger than myself.
And how do we wait for him? We wait with patience, with longing and with the clear conviction that what he has planned for us is greater than our wildest dreams, that nothing can surpass the beauty of his face or the wonder of the dwelling he has prepared for us in the eternity of his love.
But I also have no doubt that the waiting will not always be easy. The love God offers us as we age is often in the form of a cross, or of sacrifice, or some other imitation of his love for us. But the great consolation is not that waiting for God gets easier with age, but that we no longer wish to break the appointment.
And so we wait, and we pray. For "to pray means to wait for the God who comes. every prayer-filled day sees a meeting with him; every night which we faithfully put at his disposal is filled with his presence.” (Carlo, Caretto, The God Who Comes
And what more could we ask for, but to be counted worthy to wait in joyful hope, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Monsignor James P. Moroney