With only ten days to go until Christmas, my children are little corked-up vials of excitement, bubbling up, ready to pop at any minute with frantic anticipation. After so many days of waiting, they’re sure they can’t wait even one day more. “Can’t we just open one present? Why do we have to wait? How much longer?” In the span of time as counted by the very young, ten days might as well be an eternity.
We adults are not exempt from this restless waiting. Maybe we, also, are counting the days until Christmas or until another anticipated event, leaning toward it with excitement, tearing off the days between now and then like paper chain links in our minds. We all long for something, even if we are not sure exactly what it is.
The readings today speak to the anticipation of something on the horizon. We know it is there. We sense it is coming . . . we just can’t see it quite yet. Balaam, the oracle, calls it out: I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh.For now, we have just a glimpse of what is coming. Even the chief priests and the elders, who have Jesus right in front of them, cannot get a full understanding—Jesus answers their questions with another question, and they are left to puzzle it out on their own.
With this deep human longing to know comes a degree of frustration. As much as we want to experience God and to know the fullness of what is coming, we have only a small taste of it in this life. As we move through Advent, we anticipate not only the coming of Christ, but the day when we can stand before him face to face and fully know, fully see, fully understand that for which we have been longing our whole lives.
Abbey Dupuy is a freelance writer and homeschooling mama to two-year-old twins, a first grader and a new baby. You can find out more about her here.