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Dear OLPH ,

In the Spanish language one verb exists to express words that are more distinct in the English language. “Esperar” means to wait and to hope. The verb may carry with it the leery gaze of the righteous mother who calls out: “I hope you heard me!” meaning: “You had better obey me!” But One can also wait at the bus stop for the next departure while also hoping that it arrives soon. Esperanza is hope. Expectativa is expectation. As these concepts blend they ring true to an American ear, but they also manifest an openness in the Latino mindset, to whatever life brings, that is less evident in the Anglo realm of clear expectations, and may we even admit, demands.

Advent is the season of “esperar” … both of waiting and of hope. As a Church, first we sit with longing gaze upon the horizon whence Christ will come on the clouds at the end of the world. With longing, the Church cries out “Maranatha!” meaning, “Come, Lord Jesus!” We long for his second coming, when all will be made plain, when the righteous will receive their reward, and the oppressors will be bound in chains of their own making.  As the high holy days approach, the Church turns her gaze into history and relives the arrival of the Christ-child, who is Emmanuel, God-with-us. She moves from the clouds to the crèche, from the last things to the new beginnings in a small cave in Bethlehem. Advent, meaning “arrival,” has at least two meanings: Christ who comes in glory and Christ who comes in humility. Advent is the season of waiting, of hoping, of longing for the fulfillment God has promised his people!

The danger is to short change Advent and jump ahead to Christmas. It is understandable with all the Christmas music, lights and shopping. Still, a well-lived Advent makes for a richer Christmas. Christmas begins on the 24th at sundown and concludes with the Baptism of the Lord on January 13th. An older tradition keeps 40 days of Christmas, meaning on February 2nd all the decorations must come down. So, please try and live with longing and hope, in order to better celebrate the arrival of the Prince of Peace!

Many blessings to you and yours this season!

Fr. Wilson

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