A Matter of Time
I once heard a young student arguing with her Religious Studies teacher. “If there is a God,” she stated, with arms crossed and a voice full of attitude, “why doesn’t he just come down to Earth and show himself?”
You can imagine the teacher’s response. The truth is that God did come down to Earth and was born to Mary in the lowliest of circumstances. During Advent we prepare for this truth with prayer and a will to be closer to our Lord, much like we do during Lent.
In this Sunday's reading from the second letter of Peter, the author is explaining why it is taking so long for Jesus to return, as the early Christians expected Him very soon after the Ascension. His words are reassuring and speak of God's love for each and every one of us.
"There is one thing, my friends, that you must never forget: that with the Lord 'a day' can mean a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord is not being slow to carry out his promises, as anyone else might be called slow; but he is being patient with you all, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to change their ways." 2 Peter 3:8-9
Peter points out that God’s work is operating on a different kind of time to ours. We make plans for lunch next Tuesday, look forward to payday, and count the days until Christmas. Whereas God works on the scale of the truly enormous to the infinitesimally small. God's plan for our salvation takes shape throughout the long arc of human history, and in the blink of an eye.
During Advent, we are waiting for something that has already happened. He is present in the world already. In truth, Jesus arrives every time the Sacrament of the Eucharist is celebrated at Mass. Advent behaves in this timeless way: we are preparing for Jesus' birth 2000 years ago, the completion of the work at the end of time, and the coming of Jesus into our lives now, at this moment.
Whatever the arrival of God looks like, one directive is clear: we need to get ready to meet Him, because He is coming, and He is powerful.
How do we do that? We could pray more, go to confession, or fast. But ultimately, we must look at ourselves and answer one question with absolute honesty – What do I need to change about myself or my life to be ready to meet God?