So here we are, the fourth Sunday in Advent. We’re almost there. Friday’s the day, the day we have been waiting for, longing for, Christmas finally arrives and most of us will feel a great sense of…relief. Unfortunately for far too many of us the dominant feeling is relief, expressed in a collective sigh and a statement something like thank heaven it’s over. Somehow I just don’t believe that relief, gratitude that it’s over, is supposed to be the way we feel that day. We allow ourselves to get so caught up in the secular aspect of the day, the parties, the gift-giving, shopping for just the right present that yes, we are glad it’s over, we managed, hopefully, to somehow survive another Christmas. In the Gospel today Mary goes to Elizabeth, and as Mary approaches and speaks to Elizabeth, Elizabeth says, “For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.” Jesus approaches, and John leaps for joy at the coming of the savior. Friday all of us should, figuratively at least, leap for joy. We should leap for joy not because, thank heaven, it’s over, but because our savior has come. Perhaps we should feel relief, but not because it’s over, but because it has just begun. The Christ has come to us, the Word is made flesh and dwells among us. Our salvation is truly at hand.
Escaping the secular part of this season can be difficult, no, it’s probably impossible. Yet it does not have to eclipse the real meaning of the day. We can walk and chew gum at the same time, we can celebrate both, if we remember the reason we celebrate, the real reason. Advent isn’t over yet, we still have time, time to prepare not for the secular, but for the sacred. We still have time to ready ourselves for the approach of the Christ, so that on Friday we may, appropriately, leap for joy.
The Fourth Sunday in Advent
Dec. 20, 2009th Sunday in Advent