December 24 / Fourth Monday of Advent (Christmas Eve)
“You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.” ~ Luke 1:76
We are on the cusp of Christmas. The last Advent calendar window has been opened; the four candles on the Advent wreath have been lit; all the verses of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” have been sung (perhaps ad infinitum). The waiting that marks this season is nearly over—or is it? Today’s Gospel reading places the final attainment of joy just beyond our reach. For the child whom Zechariah heralds in his beautiful poem is not the Christ child whom we so eagerly await, but rather Zechariah’s own son, John the Baptist—the prophet who is not himself the light, but who comes to testify to the light. We are left, on this Christmas Eve, in a place of anticipation, certainly appropriate to the season of expectation, but also applicable to the rest of our lives, marked as they are by waiting. And we are invited, on this Christmas Eve, to follow the example of the prophet of the Most High. Like John the Baptist, we can convey the good news of God’s saving presence to others. Like him, we can bear Christ’s message of repentance and forgiveness into the world. Like him, we can testify to the light that is Christ. We must not merely wait passively, expectantly, for the coming of God’s kingdom: We must actively work to bring that kingdom about with all our hearts, all our souls and all our might. Our waiting is purposeful, it is grace-filled, it is imbued with the radiance of the light of God. And it is how we prepare the way of the Lord—today, tomorrow and forevermore.
Compassionate and generous God, grant that our waiting may be both patient and purposeful as we watch for your coming in joyful expectation.Amen.