Recently Kristin and I found out we were expecting our second child. That revelation brought with it a flurry of activity! Expectation changes behavior. Overnight her diet changed – more fruit, more protein, and pre-natal vitamins. We began to think about names. We began to make mental lists to make sure we were ready for the arrival of this new baby. Expectation changes perception. Suddenly she understood why she was over-tired. She understood why she was more emotional than normal. When she viewed those emotions and feelings through the lens of pregnancy it all made sense. Expectation changes priorities. Because we are expecting, we are intentional with what she eats, we are intentional with how late we stay out, and we are intentional with preparing for that which we expect.
In the midst of this I think of Mary. Betrothed to be married, she was expecting. She was already making her plans; she was already in the middle of rearranged priorities. She was expecting a wedding. Then the Angel Gabriel stands before her and tells her of a new expectation (Luke 1:26-38). Mary humbly accepted and her life forever changed in an instant! Her thoughts became preoccupied with this new baby. The scriptures say that “Mary pondered these things in her heart.” How frightening it must have been to be pregnant and unmarried in those days. The stigma surely followed her throughout her life. But God’s priorities superseded the approval or understanding of people.
Today, we are far removed from that ancient story. In this season of Advent, we remember that Christ became a human to save us from sin and reconcile us to God. We use Advent as a reminder, and are grateful for God’s mercy to us. It is easy to forget that we too are a people who live in expectation. At mass we proclaim the mystery of faith together, “We proclaim your death, O Lord, and profess your resurrection, until you come again!” Generations have passed, and it may not seem likely that Christ will return in our lifetime, but Christ will come again. We celebrate Advent not only to remind us that Christ has come, but also to stir up expectation. Expectation changes everything. How will our thoughts, actions, and priorities change as we expect the return of Christ? Will we, like Mary, spurn public perception in favor of living out God’s priorities? Let us be a people consumed by expectancy!
Homework this week: Examine your priorities, thoughts, and behaviors through the lens of Christ’s return. How will a sense of expectation change your life?