Third Sunday of Advent
First Reading: Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10
Responsorial Psalm: 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10
Second Reading: James 5:7-10
Gospel Reading: Matthew 11:2-11
By Jeff Hedglen
While I was studying for my degree in theology, a professor told us: “The secret to joy is waiting.” I had never considered waiting as criteria for joy. I had always thought of joy as something experienced in the moment at some event or in a person or thing. But as he expounded on this concept, I was reminded of my grandmother and finally understood the connection between joy and waiting.
There were four children in my family for 12 years and then Matthew came along. I was 15 when this happened. Growing up, I was not blessed to live in the same city as my grandmother so anytime we got to see her was a big deal. When Matthew was born, we found out that Grandma was coming to stay with us for a few months to help around the house. The excitement and anticipation was overwhelming for all of us.
You see, Grandma coming meant homemade bread, cookies, jam and on and on. I am sure my mother was excited for other reasons, but to a 15-year-old, food was pretty important. Not only did Grandma make homemade bread, but she always “accidently” made too much dough and would use the leftovers for cinnamon rolls.
As this expectancy swirled in my mind, the days, hours and minutes of waiting for Grandma to come seemed merciless. But finally she arrived and oh, the joy that filled my heart (and stomach).
This week’s readings tell of the preeminent experience of waiting and joy. In Isaiah we hear the prophecy about the good things that will occur when the Messiah comes. The Letter of James exhorts us to have patience, and the Gospel reveals that Jesus is the long awaited fulfillment of the prophecy.
The Israelites had waited centuries for the promised Messiah and he came. Now, we, the pilgrim church, await the second coming of Jesus. We are in the days between the promise and the fulfillment, but even as we wait, we encounter moments of joy as we each experience small morsels of the coming of Jesus daily in our hearts.
Yes, the secret to joy is waiting, but there is joy, too, in the anticipation.
How have you experienced joy from a time of waiting? What is something you currently are waiting to come to pass? How do you share this waiting with the Lord?