This year we find ourselves in a unique liturgical situation: Advent is shorter than usual. This is because the Fourth Sunday of Advent falls on December 24th, the same day as Christmas Eve. Thus, our time of preparation for the Lord's coming is condensed.
I recently read this news story about a tool that calculates the monetary value of our free time. It found that people value their free time much higher than their work time, recognizing, perhaps unconsciously, that time is indeed a precious commodity.
This insight serves as a thought-provoking backdrop for our brief Advent journey.
In today's Gospel, we hear John the Baptist's urgent call in the wilderness to "prepare the way of the Lord." This call is immediate and pressing, particularly in a season where our time of preparation is significantly shortened.
From Isaiah, we hear a comforting message of hope. The prophet calls us to prepare a way in the desert for our God, symbolizing the preparation of our hearts for Christ’s coming.
Peter, in his second letter, offers us a divine perspective on time, reminding us that every moment is an opportunity for grace and transformation in God's eyes.
This shortened Advent season is an opportunity for us to ponder how we value and use our time. Are we using this precious gift to deepen our relationship with God? Are we heeding John the Baptist's call to prepare with urgency?
Let us use each day to grow in faith, hope, and love.
For instance, to grow in faith, we might set aside a few minutes each day for reading Scripture or a spiritual book.
In terms of hope, we can foster this virtue by reaching out to those in need, whether through a phone call to someone alone or volunteering for a local charity.
And for love, let's focus on the small, everyday gestures of patience, kindness, and forgiveness.
As we swiftly approach the celebration of Christ's birth, let us remember that the essence of Advent lies not in its length, but in the depth of our preparation.
May this time of accelerated expectation lead us to a deeper encounter with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, whose coming we eagerly await.