Advent is all about desire, an elderly Jesuit in our community used to say every year as November drew to a close. And whenever he said it, I would say, “What?”
But gradually it dawned on me what he meant. Christians desire the coming of Christ into their lives in new ways, a desire that is heightened during Advent. The beautiful readings from the Book of Isaiah, which we often hear proclaimed during Advent, describe how even the earth longs for the presence of God. The wonderful “O antiphons,” sung at evening prayer and during the Gospel acclamations towards the end of Advent, speak of Christ as the “King of Nations and their Desire.” The Gospel readings tell of John the Baptist expressing Israel’s hope for a Messiah. Mary and Joseph look forward to the upcoming birth of a son. My friend was right: Advent is about desire.
The problem is that desire gets a bad rap in the spiritual life, since some people equate it with selfishness. Like “I want a new car or a new computer or new phone.” But our deepest desires are God’s desires dwelling within us: desires for peace, for love, for hope, and, most of all for God. So this Advent, this season of desire, ask God to reveal to you your deepest desires. And ask to come to know the Desire of the Nations, Jesus.