I’ve been guilty of writing about Advent as a time of intense preparation for beloved family and friends to gather. Baking, shopping, decorating, and wrapping—all designed to welcome travelers—create happy chaos around the table with extra chairs wedged at the corners.
True. But since the pandemic, Advent fatigue seems different. It’s the loneliness of those whose kids aren’t coming home, the spouses who couldn’t reconcile. It’s the sad resignation of the incarcerated whose daily routine is unchanging.
It’s the despair of the refugee girl who speaks only an indigenous Central American language, who can’t understand the English, Spanish, or Farsi in her international school and sometimes simply puts her head down on the desk.
To all these, even to these, today’s readings are perfectly timed wellsprings of hope and energy. God promises through Isaiah: “They will run and not grow weary, / walk and not grow faint.” Jesus beckons: “Come to me . . . and I will give you rest.” Note: personal promises, not sure answers that ring hollow in the depths of despair.
Promise opens a different perspective: the tender God sees beyond limited human vision. God, source of all goodness, promises to walk close beside us. Jesus stakes his very life on us. Often our judgments of what’s positive or negative are wrong. What first seemed dire calamity can become surprising joy. Hold it all, say Wisdom teachers. This season points to the coming of One who shares the suffering, enters the worst. Then the star brightens the night sky; the Advent candle lights.