By Brenda Hopf

Connecting Faith and Life

There was a commercial in the 1970’s for a popular brand of ketchup using, as its theme, words from the song “Anticipation” by Carly Simon. Those my age and older may remember the catchy tune for the commercial, which went like this: “Anticipation, anticipation is making me wait.” The commercial was designed to convince viewers that the long wait for this thick brand of ketchup to come out of the bottle would absolutely be worth it.

Anticipation is a word often associated with our current liturgical season of Advent. I believe a good general description of Advent’s anticipation would be, “a time of preparation and expectation for the Lord’s coming into this world and into our hearts.” It is a time that should not be rushed, but rather a time to be cherished and savored. This seems to follow the same general intention as the ketchup commercial. Don’t rush it, however long the wait; it will absolutely be worth it.

Do we really believe the time of waiting during Advent is worth it? Will we make the time to cherish the days leading up to the birth of Jesus? Is it possible to spiritually prepare our hearts to receive our Lord in today’s fast-paced world of instant gratification?

I don’t know about you, but I find those to be some pretty challenging questions to consider. Because many things are accessible at the push of a button or the flip of a switch, we often do not have to wait for what we want. The time of anticipation is almost non-existent, which is how most of us live our lives each day; it’s a way of living that spills over into our spiritual lives.

I could offer a list of practical suggestions of things we could all do to make the Advent season more meaningful and spiritual, and there is nothing wrong with coming up with a list of things to do or participate in during Advent. The kicker is that it really is up to each of us to intentionally act upon whatever it is we discern that will help us to grow closer to Jesus as we anticipate his coming. Spiritual growth does not happen instantaneously with the push of a button or the flip of a switch. We have to intentionally work at it.

Sounds like you and I have some intentional work to do this Advent – work that does not end with the celebration of the Incarnation, but rather work that must continue as we anticipate the day of our death. The Incarnation made possible Jesus’ death on the Cross, which gave us the gift of eternal life in heaven – a gift that we do not have to earn. Eternal life in heaven is ours for the taking, but this will not happen automatically at the push of a button or the flip of a switch on the day we die. We can lose this precious gift if we do not intentionally make good use of the time of anticipation from now until that day we leave this world and come face-to-face with God.

As Advent continues, may our anticipation be an expression of faith, in which we are driven by the Spirit of God to act intentionally on those things that will help us grow spiritually each day. May that continue throughout our lives until the day we take our last breath on this earth so that no matter how long the wait, it will absolutely be worth it.

Brenda Hopf is the RCIA Coordinator for Divine Mercy Parish.