“Stay awake,” Jesus told us in the Gospel last week.
“Repent,” John the Baptist says today. “Prepare the way of the Lord.” Make the crooked path straight.
If you ask a child what we are waiting for, they’ll tell you in one word: “Christmas.” It’s really that simple.
For a child, of course, it can’t come fast enough. For the rest of us, we would probably like more time—a few more weeks to plan, shop, wrap and ship. But the reality of Advent—the astonishing truth at its center—plunges us into something deeper. The question demands an answer.
What, exactly, are we waiting for? What are we preparing for?
It isn’t really Christmas. It isn’t the presents and the tree, the cards and the tinsel.
It is Christ. We are waiting for Christ.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote beautifully about the three comings of Jesus: in Bethlehem, at the incarnation; at the end of time, for the final judgment; and here and now, through the sacrament of the Eucharist, and the grace of God, and the prayerful awakening of our hearts.
So, prepare and repent.