We say that the season of Advent is a season of waiting. We try to persuade ourselves that if we just say that often enough, it will become true. Advent is a season of waiting. Advent is a season of waiting.
But it’s not. Advent is a season of impatience. Sure, there are other times throughout the year when we experience impatience. But this season, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, this season is the climax of impatience, when all our anxiety and hurry and worry are concentrated into four short weeks.
We are busy preparing, each of us in our individual way, for something special to happen to us. Is this the right gift, or shall we seek another? Is this the right way for me to serve the poor, or shall I seek another? Is this the moment with my family that I was waiting for, or was I waiting for something else?
The horrible possibility lies in the back of our mind that our expectation will indeed go unfulfilled – that what we are waiting for will never happen – Or like John the Baptist, waiting in prison. Yes, John the Baptist. John the Baptist is back today, speaking differently than he did last week. Today, he represents Advent in another way, in a way that is just as authentic as last week’s style. But he is tired. He is discouraged. He questions. John the Baptist is like us. He jumps to hope with power and aggressiveness. But, later, he has questions; he even has doubts.
He thought he knew Jesus. He was eager and energetic just last week. But, then, time went by. Things got harder for John. In today’s passage, Jesus has begun his ministry, and John has been cast into prison by Herod the Great. He begins to have his doubts. Is Jesus really the one he was looking for?
What happened to the vivid forecasts of John the Baptist? John sends several of his own people, his own disciples, to ask the poignant question, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we wait for another?” John has devoted his entire ministry, even gives his very life, to preparing the way for Jesus Christ, but John does not even recognize Jesus when he comes.
This is the Advent question: “Are you the one I’ve been waiting for, or shall I wait for another?”
We will find a precious gift, the gift of Christ; we will find reconciliation and peace-if we have eyes to see beyond our expectations-if we look around us and notice new places where Jesus is working.