It is unfortunate that there is such a disconnect between the beautiful readings of Advent and our daily life in the material world. Before we celebrated Thanksgiving—that singular American day when we turn, perhaps even half-heartedly, as a nation toward God—strings of lights began to show themselves in the early evenings of darkness and decorations began to appear, while merchants presume to put everything on sale and declare in their advertisements the number of shopping days till Christmas. We can’t even finish comfortably our joyful Thanksgiving Feast without thinking about rushing to the mall to catch the early-bird specials being offered at the vigil of Black Friday. It might surprise you to know that even St. Francis of Assisi dealt with a similar problem nearly 800 years ago! That is why he arranged the first crèche, with live animals and people, to remind everyone of the reason for the season. It might not hurt for us to consider a similar approach to Advent.
St. Paul tells us today to tone down our materialistic lifestyle in anticipation of the second coming of Christ, knowing not the day nor the time when it will occur. Jesus tells us that we will be surprised, just as the people of Noah’s day, when they ignored the warnings. Isaiah fuels our Hope with a glorious vision of the Lord’s mountain, around which all nations of the earth will gather at the end of time. These readings are worth quiet contemplation in the midst of a busy material world. Spend time with them.
The people of Isaiah’s day did not know when the Messiah would come; they lived in anticipation and darkness. In the same way, we await Jesus’ return. Instead of counting off the days till Christmas, we can put on the Lord Jesus Christ by entering into the darkness of anticipation.