December 16, 2022

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Grow in love for Christ to eagerly await both his comings

Sean GallagherThrough the years, my boys have often kept an excited vigil by our windows that look out upon the street in front of our house as they await the arrival of special guests—often grandparents or uncles, aunts and cousins.

When the awaited car comes around the corner and parks in front of our house, the boys will rush to tell Cindy and me of their arrival and then go barreling out the front door to greet our guests.

I’ve always smiled at this scene. It’s good to see my sons so thrilled to be with people they love.

Memories of my boys’ enthusiasm have played through my mind in these days leading up to Christmas as I’ve meditated upon St. Paul’s words to the Christians of Philippi that “we eagerly await the coming of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” which are included in the Church’s Liturgy of the Hours during Advent (Phil 3:20b).

How eager are we adults in awaiting the coming of Christ? The celebration of Christ’s birth at Christmas inspires varying levels of excitement in us. But it’s usually due to gifts we will give or receive, or the chance to spend time with loved ones.

Gathering for Mass at Christmas in a church filled with worshippers, decorated beautifully for the feast and echoing with heartwarming music, can put a smile on our faces, too. And that’s all for the good.

We’re often rightly invited to seek out how Christ comes to us in our daily lives—in our friends and loved ones, our co-workers, neighbors, those in need and strangers. Christ also comes to us here and now in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist.

But sit with those words from St. Paul for a little bit.

Paul and the Philippian Christians were truly eager for Christ’s promised second coming in glory.

How eager are we for that?

I dare say that for many of us, myself included, the second coming has often been nothing more than a theological concept with no discernible effect on our daily lives.

It’s understandable that this may be the case. We’re usually focused on our lives here and now, even when that means we’re trying with God’s grace to grow in virtue and holiness every day.

But that striving to live a holy life can be strengthened when our relationship with Christ grows deeper and we yearn to be closer to him.

When we love someone, we want to be with that person. We eagerly await his or her arrival.

Having a desire for Christ’s second coming at the end of time might seem morbid given the frightening descriptions of it that we read in the Gospels. But after giving one such alarming account of the end, Jesus tells his Apostles, “When these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand” (Lk 21:28).

Such happenings, then, are not a reason to fear but instead to look for Christ’s arrival.

So, as we celebrate Christmas this year, let’s ask Christ for the gift of allowing our love for him to grow so that we’ll eagerly await his second coming like Paul and the Christians of Philippi did.

That will make us more like my boys as they eagerly look out our front window for the coming of loved ones.

Maybe it’s this childlike eagerness to be with those we love that Jesus was in part thinking about when he said that “unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3). †

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