And we're just too busy to get the nursery ready in our hearts
It seems that the season of Advent is, aside from a being penitential season, a proof for Einstein’s special theory of relativity. I have not worked out the science of this proof yet, but the circumstantial evidence seems overwhelming. Children, after all, experience the season as one in which time agonizingly runs far slower, whereas adults know that three weeks and some days (depending on when the 25th falls) comes and goes in a blink on an eye. Therefore, time indeed is not constant, but runs faster or slower relative to one’s own position in life.
I do realize of course that Einstein’s theory doesn’t really apply here for a number of reasons, but time does seem to run faster as we get older, doesn’t it? One explanation is that as we get older, each additional day, week, month, or year in our life makes up an increasingly smaller proportion of our life experience, and therefore it seems like time runs faster. Four weeks for a 7-year-old is a significant chuck of his young life, but nothing for an adult. Still, I think there is something even more applicable at work here.
Children simply have far less on their plates than adults do. They have the time and freedom to obsess about the coming of Christmas, so it seems to them like time is crawling along. Adults, on the other hand, are juggling all sorts of responsibilities, activities, stresses and worries that distract us. Some of these things are good and necessary (family responsibilities, jobs, etc.), some are optional (hobbies, activities, entertainment, etc.), and some are downright bad (pick any vice/sin). No matter the category, all these things tend to fill up our lives, and since we are distracted by them, time seems to speed right by us.
What does this all have to do with the last Sunday of Advent? Well, we say that Advent is a season of preparation, and indeed it is. We are preparing to receive into our lives the Savior, and what this really comes down to is whether or not we have room for Him in our lives. Our figurative arms are only so big, and there is only so much we can carry at one time. Advent is a time to take inventory of what we are carrying, and make (more) room for Christ in our lives.
This is, of course, easier said than done for two reasons. The first is that upon initial examination, we may find that we like all the stuff that we are carrying and are not willing to let anything go. We convince ourselves that just about all of these things are good and/or necessary, when in fact, many of them are not. That is what is so great about snow days (if you live in such a climate). Snow days force everyone to stop for a day or two, and when this happens, you realize that the world didn’t end when you didn’t do this, that, and the other thing. You come to the realization that perhaps all that stuff that makes our lives so busy is in the end not really that important. Maybe we can and should let some of it go so that we might be free to pick up something better.
This thing (person) that we need to pick up is, of course, Christ. Herein lies the second difficulty. Even if we have room in our lives for Jesus, we might be afraid of what it might mean if we accept Him with open arms. Even though He is the lightest burden we could ever take into our lives (because in reality he actually sets us free), a life with Christ is nonetheless radical, and many are afraid to take Him up. As the Angel Gabriel said to Mary, he says also to you: Do not be afraid!
When Gabriel came to Mary and announced that she would be the mother of Jesus, she could have said repeated the sin of Eve and said no. She no doubt had her own duties and responsibilities and could have said, “sorry Gabriel, I can’t fit that into my schedule.” She didn’t. She must also have been understandably nervous about the task she was asked to perform. Despite that, she trusted in God completely and replied, “fiat” (let it be done). With that response, the world was changed for ever and salvation came to mankind.
None of us will ever be asked to accept such a great responsibility as Mary was, but as she was asked to be the Mother of God, we too are asked every day of our lives, and in a special way as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, if we are able and willing to accept that Child and all that comes with Him into our own arms and into our own lives.
So, are you?
Prepared for Aleteia by theCanonry of Saint Leopold. Click here to learn more about the Canons Regular of St. Augustine.