Shhhh. Listen…(wait 10 seconds) There. Did you hear it? That was the sound of 10 seconds. When was the last time you put everything on hold, sat in total silence, and just listened for 10 seconds? The great irony of our fast-paced, modern world is that, as obsessed as we are with time, we have absolutely no concept of it. 10 seconds feels like an eternity. If we have to wait behind someone at a green light for more than 2 seconds, we’re laying on the horn and shouting at them. Faster, faster, faster, the world chants, until time has lost all meaning. Only the immediate moment matters; anything beyond that, or before it, might as well be science fiction.
Because of this, everything, however insignificant, takes on a sense of immediacy and urgency. We have to do everything NOW, because later doesn’t exist. I need a cell phone so that I can text my friend NOW about the pizza I ate at the mall. I need the highest speed internet so that I can see the stats for my favorite ball club NOW. I need to get through this line to the checkout counter NOW because the next store over has the latest spring fashions 50% off. We run, and we run, and we run, competing in an impossible race to do everything NOW.
And for what? In a world in which only NOW matters, and everything demands our attention NOW, everything becomes equally important. With no time to look at anything in depth, we lose our sense of priorities and direction. Skimming along the surface of life from one superficial task to another, we are completely subject to whatever winds and waves come by. Our lives become a form of waking sleep, exhausted, frustrated, going through the motions as we chase after the fleeting dreams of this passing world, but always coming up short.
So what is the answer? The message of today’s gospel, and every Advent, “Wake up!” Stop running, and start living. Stop chasing shadows, and start basking in the light of Jesus Christ. Stop slaving for the crumbs left by the masters of this world and take your place as God’s beloved children at the feast in his kingdom. We are not born into this world to be slaves of the NOW; we are here to become sons and daughters of eternity. Let that begin NOW.