Advent is a time for dreaming. Some dream of a white Christmas. Others dream about the gifts they hope to find under the tree come Christmas morning. Still others dream of spending Christmas on a deserted island far from the demands and expectations that, for many, infuse this season with stress and anxiety. I believe all of us dream of going back to normal.
Whatever your dream, Advent is also a time to recall God’s dream for humanity. As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ as the Word made flesh, our thoughts are drawn to the reason for the season, and it does not take us long to conclude that we are the reason why God sent his only Son to take on flesh and live among us. After all, almost as soon as God loved and dreamed the world into existence, we humans traded God’s dream for dreams of our own; we went our own way, and we forgot the image and likeness of God in which we were created.
God loved the world too much to let us remain in our sin, our isolation, and our separation from him and one another. God dreamed of restoring the world, and those who inhabit it, to their original state of unity and dignity, and it was thus that he decided to send Jesus to be our Savior. But that dream did not die when Jesus ascended to the Father after his death and resurrection. It continues even now as God continues to dream and envision the world he entrusted to our stewardship being reshaped and reconfigured in such a way that it more closely resembles his Kingdom.
In today’s first reading, we hear one of the most poetic and eloquent descriptions of God’s dream through the words of the prophet Isaiah. But God’s dream is not just about some distant future in a faraway place where enemies become friends and those who are opposed join hands in friendship; it is a dream that God wishes to implant in us so that, making the dream our own, we would live, love, and work in such a way as to make that dream a reality now, today!
What gets in the way of making that dream a reality is that just as our first parents, we, too, continue to struggle in our own lives with the tension between sharing God’s dream and going our own way. That’s why we need to hear once again the voice of John the Baptist in our Gospel reading reminding us to prepare the way of the Lord, but in order to do this we must first experience a change of heart. In other words, repent for the Kingdom of heaven is near.
All of that is good and fine, but the question remains: how do we awaken to the dream God has for us? How do we make God’s dream our own and play our rightful role in working to make that dream a reality? Perhaps the best and most powerful way to do this is to embrace a spirituality of Advent–Attending to the presence of God in and around us; Discerning carefully what choices we are called to make in life; Visioning anew what our life can look like and doing what we need to do to achieve the life we desire; Engaging in life-giving relationships with those whom God has given us to share the journey of life; Nurturing our relationship with God through prayer and frequent reception of the Sacraments; and Thanking God for the abundant ways in which he blesses us, aiming always to grow in an attitude of gratitude.
Whatever your particular dream this Advent season, let us bring all of our dreams, hopes, and longings to the Lord in this Eucharistic celebration, and let us ask God that by feeding us with the Body and Blood of his Son, he might nourish within us the desire to make God’s dream our own and to work throughout this Advent season and beyond to make that dream a reality.