“What can I bring?” This is the polite thing to ask when we are invited somewhere. Even when the host says that all that is required is our presence, we feel better bringing something. We do not like showing up empty-handed, but kids tend not to worry about that. They know deep inside that what they need to bring is not something that can be bought from the store on the way to the party. The gift for the host is their presence… and their appetite.
It can be very frustrating to spend a lot of money, time, and effort preparing a feast for your guests and then have some of them arrive not hungry. Perhaps they came from another party or didn't know dinner would be served. Whatever the reason is, their capacity to receive has been diminished. They can still receive friendship and love; they can still be entertained, but they are not capable of receiving the feast that was prepared for them in the way it was intended. They might not ever know it, but they are missing out.
Advent is a time of preparation, of making room for God to be born in our hearts. That means that we need to let go of things that are taking up the spaces that are meant for Him. If our hearts had an index and we looked up the "Christmas" section, what would we find inside? Would we find an empty place in need of a Savior, or is it filled with other things?
We need to let go of our expectations of what things are supposed to look like and show up hungry for Christmas. We have to let go of the past. Whether it is happy memories… or painful ones, the gift of God is in the present. We can only receive Him if we make room for Him in our hearts. We need to learn to be in the discomfort of the empty space; we need to learn to persevere in our hunger.
During the last week of Advent (between December 17th and the 23rd), the Church prays the O Antiphons before the Magnificat in the Evening Prayer. These ancient prayers express the deep longing and hunger for the Messiah, the deepest desire of every human heart. Come, Lord Jesus! O Wisdom, O Lord, O Root of Jesse, O Key of David, O Radiant Dawn, O King of All Nations, O Emmanuel… Come!
Don’t ruin your appetite. He is coming… O Bread of Life… Come!