“I should have gone to register nine,” I thought, drumming my fingers on the shopping cart handle as I stood in line at the grocery store.
Hemmed in by another cart and unable to change lanes, I remembered an episode of “The Simpsons” in which Apu, the owner of a small market, shows Marge how to speed through the checkout by sizing up the customers. “Look for single men paying cash for a few dinner items,” he advises. “They don’t chitchat.”
Most of us hate to wait. We interrupt, weave in and out of traffic and rummage through the Christmas presents in the closet. No time to cook; hit the drive-through or call for takeout. No time to save up for purchases; buy them now, on credit. The Christmas season begins in October; scouring the shelves for last-minute Halloween candy this year, I almost ended up giving my trick-or-treaters chocolate Santas.
Every Advent, we’re invited to learn how to wait — how to be patient, how to prepare our hearts for the Lord. Scripture directs our gaze away from the holiday-harried minute to the stillness of a starlit manger, where eternity entered into the everyday.
And every year, many of us resolve to embrace the gift of Advent. We’re determined to put down the wrapping paper, stop fussing with the tree lights, be still and know that the Lord is truly God (Psalm 46:11).
But Advent also calls us to another kind of waiting.
Born once in the flesh, Christ will not appear as a babe in Bethlehem this year — or next, or ever again. But he will be present, as he always is, in those made in the image and likeness of God.
And as he always is, he will be especially present in the poor, the unloved, the outcast, the marginalized. His are the hands of the migrant and the refugee, reaching out to ours for rescue. His are the eyes of those suffering from addiction and mental illness, seeking compassion. His is the voice of those silenced by injustice. His are the feet of those who have walked away from the faith, brokenhearted but ultimately longing to come home.
The Son of God will be in the bedraggled man who begs outside your favorite coffee shop. The Lion of Judah will be in the single mother struggling to pay for her children’s clothing at the department store. The Messiah will be in the frustrated coworker who needs your words of encouragement, and in the wayward teen who needs your guidance.
While we wait for the Lord to be born in our hearts, let us also wait on him by serving him in these others.
Every act of kindness and patience, every moment spent listening to our brothers and sisters, every step walked in solidarity, every prayer uttered in intercession — these are the ways in which we recognize the time of his visitation, and the sign that we truly believe this holy child is indeed “Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us’” (Matthew 1:24).
Gina Christian is a senior content producer at CatholicPhilly.com. Follow her on Twitter at @GinaJesseReina.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: Advent is time of vigilance and prayer, pope says
NEXT: Church must catch up and serve needs of single parents
Share this story