CHRISTINA DEHAN JALOWAY
All of us know how difficult it is to wait: for Christmas morning, for an acceptance letter, for a diagnosis, for a spouse, for a job offer, for a child. If you’re currently engaged, you know how difficult it is to wait for your wedding day, and how the longing to be united to your beloved increases day by day.
If you’re married, you know that when that day finally does come, while it is the fulfillment of so many hopes, dreams, and prayers, it’s only the beginning. You begin to wait for the next big milestone: your first child, your first home, and so on. And when the pregnancy test is positive, or you sign the lease or mortgage papers, a new season of waiting begins.
It’s tempting, however, to think that once we get what we’ve been waiting for, we’ll be set. A friend of mine calls this “missing puzzle piece syndrome”. As a single woman, I struggled against the false notion that once I was married, I’d be set: no more loneliness, no more anxiety, no more waiting. Thankfully, the Lord purified me of this belief throughout my decade of singleness and helped me embrace the truth that I will be waiting and longing for the fullness of redemption until I die.
Not only did this realization prepare me for a more realistic (and therefore beautiful) understanding of the purpose and meaning of marriage, it also prevented me from making my husband into an idol, or expecting him to save me. Marriage, like all of vocations, is a path, not an end unto itself. And in that sense, it is a season of waiting like Advent.
As I’ve gotten older, Advent has become more to me than a season of waiting and preparation for the great feast of Christ’s Nativity; it’s also a reminder to us that we, both as individuals and as a Church, are still in Advent. We are still waiting for Christ to come, both at the end of time and into each moment of our daily life. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) wrote that
Advent is not just a matter of remembrance and playing at what is past—Advent is our present, our reality: the Church is not just playing at something here; rather, she is referring us to something that also represents the reality of our Christian life. It is through the meaning of the season of Advent in the Church’s year that she revives our awareness of this. She should make us face these facts, make us admit the extent of being unredeemed, which is not something that lay over the world at once time, and perhaps somewhere still does, but is a fact in our own lives and in the midst of the Church.
As Advent draws to a close, take some time to meditate on the fact that no matter what you are waiting for, the Lord has even more that he desires to give you: Himself. And you don’t have to wait till Christmas morning to receive this gift: He is waiting for you now, in the Eucharist, in his Word, and in the incarnate love of those he has placed in your life.