The second reading this Sunday carries within it the beautiful concept of God time; that being, one day as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.
I have always found the Christmas Eve liturgies to be a most interesting study in God time. Many of our parishes have the ever popular 4 p.m. vigil Mass. Usually this Mass is packed to the walls with such a varied assembly; there are those who are frantically thinking about their “to do” list; some dressed in their glitter and glamor anticipating an evening of Christmas parties ahead of them; others who need to get back home to wrap presents, to get children into bed and a turkey into the oven. Of course there are those few with the puzzled looks on their faces wondering how Christmas crept up on them, and how could they have forgotten to buy their mother a gift and will there be a convenience store open after Mass where they can do some shopping?
The pinch of time can be felt in the hustle and bustle. With so many distractions the liturgy will seem to pass right by, as quickly “as a day.”
The complete opposite happens at the “midnight Mass at 10 p.m.” People come to this Mass in a quiet mood. Their lungs are filled with the crisp winter air of a cold dark night. Their eyes are as bright as shining stars. They are weary from preparations and long to rest in all the verses of the Christmas carols, and for a homily that speaks of family memories and a stable in Bethlehem so long ago. They want to linger in candlelight and incense, they have slowed down to kairos time, God time, and they are hoping that this Mass might extend as a thousand years.
Clock time frames our liturgy. But how we embrace that time readies us for kairos time. It is the desire of the church, that liturgy act as a God’s appointed time, filled with moments when the Holy Spirit, through word and Eucharist, draws near to do special work in and through us.
How do you prepare yourself for God time? Do you find yourself rushing to church; perhaps even arriving after Mass has begun? Do you come with your mind clouded by concerns and other activities that need your attention? As the homily begins, do you look at your watch? Does a sigh escape you if the presider intones eucharistic prayer 1 (the long one) or the choir sings all the verses to the hymn?
During these remaining weeks of Advent perhaps we should make it a priority to be at liturgy to “wait on God” with patience. Come a little earlier, so that before Mass begins, you can look around your church and see how the Advent journey is expanding. Has anything been added that was not there last week? What significance might that candle, or tree, or crèche piece hold for you? Actively listen for the quiet, close your eyes and let the noise of the church, and its gathering people, fall away from you. Sit in stillness and just breathe. “Here is your God!” Step into God time.
Our ancestors waited thousands of years for the Messiah to arrive. At each liturgy we are given the privilege to be with Jesus, the Messiah. May our day of the Lord always be as a thousand years.
Zahorik is pastoral associate at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Oshkosh.