“Half the joy is in the anticipation.” This somewhat curmudgeonly refrain was recited by the religious brother who taught me sophomore English in high school back in Missouri. This phrase was meant to remind us to temper our unrealistic expectations of the future while keeping us focused on the present. To this day, I still think of this line when I am anticipating the next big event in Holy Cross, in my ministry at Cathedral High School, or with my own family. I use it as a reminder to be grateful and aware of God’s blessings in my life here and now.
Advent, however, is not the time to temper expectations. Advent is the season of anticipation and preparation. In Advent, we are reminded that Christ is coming again. He comes into our hearts here and now, and he certainly will come again at the end of time. Now is the time to watch and be ready. Now is the time to wake up and to reflect if we’ve grown slack in our prayers, routines, and practices. If you’re waiting for a spiritual wake-up call, today’s gospel is it. Now is the time when we prepare to see the loving Master come once again and long to hear him say to us, “Well done, my good and faithful servants.”
So, as I contemplate this Advent, I find half the joy is not in the anticipation. The joy that Jesus Christ brings cannot be overestimated or imagined. The question for us during this holy season is will we be ready for Christ’s return? Will we be the vigilant stewards and gatekeepers that we were created to be and we have vowed ourselves to be, or will we be asleep in our faith? As we enter into this Advent season, let us prepare and watch with anticipation for Christ who never fails to produce joy and peace beyond our wildest anticipations.
Br. Matt Rehagen, C.S.C., is a member of the United States Province of Priests and Brothers. He made his Perpetual Profession on 26 August together with another brother and eight seminarians from the Province. He is working today as a Campus Minister and Math Teacher at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, a school sponsored by the Midwest Province.