I’m sitting here at my desk, thinking – reflecting upon the readings. I glance over at my hot cup of tea, letting it steep before it is ready to take that first sip. It’s a cold December night here in Indiana. We had our first real snow today, but yet nothing gives me as warm and cozy a feeling as a nice cup of tea while gazing out at the frigid landscape.
I think some more on the readings.
Today, we read of John the Baptist. He’s in prison, waiting to see if this Jesus fellow is who he thinks he is – if Jesus is indeed the One to save us. We also read in the first reading today about hope – a hope in what we’re all searching for, yearning for in a Heaven that is so unimaginable, a utopia that we simply believe we will reach some day.
And then we read from Saint James, where he reminds us that this Heaven that we seek is something that we need to be patient for. We need to let things take shape and let time manifest itself and go out in the desert from time to time to see Christ, and He will show us the way. But it takes patience.
I look at my tea. It’s been a few minutes. I bob the tea bag up and down, stirring it, getting the last essence out before I finally take that first sip. I take a sip, holding onto that hot cup of tea, gazing outside and contemplating. The best things in life take patience, whether it’s a good cup of tea on a cold winters night, or God coming into this world in the form of man, here to save us all.
No matter what it is, once you let it steep a little, the goodness eventually presents itself.
I think this is a lesson John the Baptist learned today. John, as great a prophet as he is in that day, is also simply human. He has an expectation of what Christ will be. And so here he is in prison, and he has his disciples coming to him, probably telling him that Jesus is doing some good things, but not necessarily with the flair that John thought He would. Was He really the one to save us, or just another prophet? And so John questions, and maybe doubts a little bit. He sends them to ask Jesus if He is truly the One. Jesus does not disappoint, and actually puts John in his place a little bit. John was sitting in prison, and he may have been getting a little impatient. It’s understandable.
We too get impatient.
But Jesus, being God, does everything at its right time. There is a process for everything, and Jesus, more than anyone needed to steep a little, so to speak. John, like most of the Jewish people of the day, expected the Savior to do great things and come down with fiery judgement on all those wicked people that were oppressing them. But Jesus was subtle. He was humble. He was doing all kinds of great things, but the salvation promised was going to take time. It wasn’t going to happen overnight in a grand display. There was a process that needed to occur, and John and his followers needed to be patient and let God present Himself.
John needed to be patient. First century Israel needed to be patient. We, today, need to be patient.
That is easier said than done. This time of year often results in impatience. We can’t wait to get our Christmas decorations up, many times even in November. The parking lots are full and people are impatient, honking their horns. Often we skimp over Advent, forgetting what it is about and jump right into Christmas. We want God to answer us – right now!
It becomes about things, and less about the Man.
Let the Advent season steep a little, like a good cup of tea. Take this time to turn off the noise, and read a little more – more of Scripture, more spiritual books. Wait for the goodness. Take the time to go to Confession once, or maybe even twice, working on those things, those vices that you always seem to come back to. Take the time this season to work with God to get those things under control again, or maybe laying the foundation and path for that to happen in the coming months. There are penance services all around – take the time to work on your soul and let it steep in Christ.
Take the time to get outside, no matter where you live, and listen to the silence around you, whether it’s a light snowfall, or the stillness of a warm, sunny day. Christ is there, all around you, within you.
Take this time, this Advent season to steep in Him for a while, letting Him speak to you. Take this time, these next couple weeks and simply be patient – waiting for Him to present Himself. He will, and He won’t disappoint.