Advent 2022

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent: Renewed Assurance

Fourth Wed 1

While Advent is a favorite season of the liturgical year for me, it is also one of the most frustrating. My frustration comes from the sense that our culture seems to have decided to ignore Advent entirely. Christmas seems to dawn earlier each year as Christmas decorations, Christmas carols and Christmas gift shopping take over before that last bit of Halloween candy is consumed. Then, just as quickly, they all disappear on December 26 (Try finding a Christmas carol on the radio on the day after Christmas!). This is not merely the cranky rant of old man Scrooge for I believe that an essential element of our Christian faith, which is the real “reason for the season,” is lost as a result by this pre-emptive celebration.

The readings of the early days of Advent emphasize the need of God’s people for a long-awaited savior. God’s people cannot go on without a savior. The prophets cry out, calling our attention to God’s great promise to bring salvation to God’s faithful ones. As Advent moves forward, that need we all have for such salvation and our profound yearning for it, is spoken of more clearly and forcefully. Now in this final week of Advent, the Scriptures emphasize our joyful trust that God will be faithful to that promise to be with us and to save us. Today the writer of the Song of Songs expresses this hopeful and excited expectation in the imagery of the relationship between the bride and her bridegroom. In the Gospel, that same hopeful excitement is expressed in the mutual greeting of Mary and Elizabeth, the joyful, and unrestrained leaping of the baby in Elizabeth’s womb and Elizabeth’s enthusiastic words to Mary.

The need, the promise, the waiting, the hope-filled and excited expectation are all part of our faith relationship with God, with how we experience God and with how we find God. We cannot experience authentic faith without acknowledging our need for it, without hearing God’s promise, without waiting, searching and, yes, even wondering if God will make good on that promise, and without the stirring of true hope and joy in us as we sense God’s faithfulness to us once again. Celebrating Advent by listening to and praying with the message of the Sacred Scriptures and recognizing that same dynamic process going on in our own lives of faith offers us assurance that God continues to be faithful to us and always will be faithful to us. That renewed sense of assurance might even be worth postponing decorating our Christmas tree and decking the halls for a couple of weeks this time of year.