“What are you waiting for?” That’s a question usually asked when we want some action done, when we’re impatient because we’re weary from waiting for an answer or a solution.

It’s Advent, the season of waiting, patience, expectation.

Life can often seem like a big “waiting room,” as we have to “cool our jets” before getting an answer, an appointment, a solution.

That’s sure been obvious these last twenty months as we’ve struggled with Covid. “When?” was a word often uttered in exasperation, as we all continue to wonder “When will this all be over?”

So, just “what are we waiting for?” Depends…in the short run, we wait for the traffic light to change, the elevator to arrive, the receptionist to call our name, the check to get here. In the short run, Advent has us waiting for Christmas, nursing the hope of ancient Israel for the arrival of the promised Messiah.

But, in the long run, we are waiting for the second coming of Jesus. Sure, He came that first time as the Holy Infant of Bethlehem, and then promised us He will indeed come again at the end of time to bring us home.

So, all of life has a passing nature, a tentativeness to it. No wonder this life can be filled with tensions, setbacks, frustrations, weariness. It’s incomplete! We await the completion of God’s plan when He arrives in glory as the Judge of the living and the dead.

All the headaches and adversities of this life are potent reminders that we are in need, we are incomplete, there’s something missing, and we sense the void. That’s what we’re waiting for: salvation, rescue, redemption, fulfilment…and that will only come when Jesus returns.

We cheat a little at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, because we already have the Christmas crib up. That’s because millions of people will come through this Advent, and we want to remind them of the true meaning of the coming feast.

One feature stands out in our manger scene: the crib is empty! The baby Jesus will not show up until Christmas Eve Mass.

The empty crib is a radiant symbol: that’s our world; that’s our lives! Empty, awaiting Someone.

So, our best Advent prayer is simply, “Dear Lord, I sure need you! In my life, in this world, is an emptiness, a lack of completeness. You alone can fill that! Come, Lord Jesus!”