Reflect on your expectations

By | December 8, 2010

In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks the people of his time about their expectations of John the Baptist: “What did you go out to the desert to see?” He then reminds them to look a little deeper, to ponder a bit more and to focus those expectations on what is most significant.

It’s good to consider our own expectations at this time of the year. Articulating our hopes and dreams helps us focus on what we value most (what do I really want or need?) and it also gives us a sense of whether we might be satisfied or disappointed in what we actually receive. So what’s on your Christmas “wish list” this year?

Nature has its own expectations. During this long winter season as the land lies fallow, earth hopes and waits with patience for the winter rains or a covering of snow to clothe the barren soil devoid of vegetation.

Madison Avenue, newspaper flyers and television commercials try to shape our Christmas expectations. Retailers suggest that we might seek iPods, iPads, or iPhones (interesting that they all begin with “I”). Or maybe it’s new clothing, fitness equipment or appliances that we expect. Or perhaps, it’s the hope of finding a job, or money to pay the electric bill, or a nice holiday meal. Whatever it is that we seek — will we be satisfied or disappointed if we receive or fail to receive that for which we hope?

The texts of the Third Sunday of Advent express and promise the fulfillment of our deepest expectations that we might not even name — more significant and more permanent than any “things.” In the opening prayer we ask for the joy of salvation and to be able to celebrate the approaching feast with gratitude. St. James suggests that patience might be a good thing to ask for, as we wait. And the prophet Isaiah describes the approaching Kingdom as a time and place of restored relationships where the ransomed return and meet each other with joy, and where all are made whole because the coming of the Lord is at hand.

But it is in the Gospel account that the outrageous hopes and expectations of us all are expressed: that the world be restored so the blind might regain their sight, the lame might walk, lepers be healed, the deaf be able to hear, the dead be returned to life and the poor receive the same good news as the wealthy: the reassurance that we are loved and saved and free.

These last days of Advent, perhaps we should ponder again the things which society offers to fulfill expectations for Christmas. As you read the Sunday newspaper this weekend, with all its ads, take a moment to evaluate how these offerings mesh with the deepest longings of our hearts that can’t be wrapped or packaged but are offered as the true Christmas gift.

 

Sr. Rehrauer is the diocesan director of Evangelization and Worship.

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