Sunday, December 07, 2008

Advent 2 - Waiting Patiently

Image Courtesy of the SCC Generalate Website (2007)

This year, "wait patiently," the central theme of the second Sunday of Advent, is brought alive in a singular way with two significant feasts of Mary that take place during this coming week, the feast of Mary's Immaculate Conception and the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (more on the feasts specifically to come). Waiting patiently is a true Marian characteristic, a "Mary-ism," to use a variation on a term developed by an "aunt" of mine. It's not only that Mary waited patiently or patiently waited but it's how she embodied patience, how she lived out the meaning of "patient waiting."

Much of Mary's life was lived in waiting patiently. As a young Jewish woman, her faith life was centered on awaiting the Messiah. As a young girl, she did not know that it would be through her Fiat that the Messiah would come, yet as a Jewish girl growing up in the faith-filled home of Anna and Yakim she prayed and praised in patient waiting. When the angel Gabriel came to her and with her Fiat she conceived of the Holy Spirit, she began her waiting for the birth of Jesus, yet she did not wait on herself in the meantime; instead she went to Elizabeth and waited with her and tended to her for the birth of John (the Baptist). On the journey to Bethlehem, she with Joseph waited for a place in which to birth Jesus and then in the time that followed she again demonstrated patient waiting as the Shepherds and later the Kings came to honor Jesus. The Flight into Eqypt, the Child Jesus lost in the Temple, the every day occurrences of raising a young boy -- in all these things, Mary lived patient waiting. When Jesus began his public ministry, at the Feast of Cana, after suggesting to Jesus that he do something about the wine, Mary waited patiently for his time to come. On the way to Calvary and at the foot of the Cross, again Mary embodies patient waiting. Following Jesus' death, holding her Son's lifeless body in her arms, she lives patient waiting. Gathered with the disciples, before the Resurrection and again after the Ascension, Mary lives in patient waiting. Following the descent of the Holy Spirit, with John as her side, she lives out her life in patient waiting, moving towards the day she will be alive in everlasting glory with the Father, Son, and Spirit one. In fact, Mary now assumed into heaven, alive for eternity, now waits patiently on us.

Patient waiting, Marian-style, is not a passive act, not a passive posture. It is an attitude of intense engagement in the moment, being alert to the grace of God in the moment, not losing sight of opportunities for encountering God in the present. Patient waiting as Mary lived it is an act of total openness to be available to God "in the meantime." It's about being all one can be in that period of waiting, in that period we might be tempted to call "the meantime." The period of waiting in Mary's view is not incidental: it is the journey and it is as important as the destination.

So as we patiently (a)wait Christmas, let us endeavor to live Maryistic patient waiting, living in the moment, "allowing Advent to Advent so that Christmas can be Christmas" (original source: unknown).

What ideas do you have for Maryistic patient waiting in today's world?
How can each of us endeavor to live Maryistic patient waiting more authentically in our own lives today?


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