Advent is like the bride’s maids waiting on the bride groom. Do we have oil in our lamps? If not, this is the time to go and buy plenty. How do we buy oil for our lamps?
Oil is fuel. It provides light. It is prayer that provides us with both fuel and light. It brightens our awareness and our commitment to the wait. It brings us peace and wisdom. It unites us to God, and that is our destiny – to be one with God as Jesus and the Father are one.
Our sole joy consists in this objective, so why do we run from it?
One, we are impatient and want the fullness of everything now. We are not good at waiting. We endeavor to pray more and to practice more Christ-like love in our lives, but we grow impatient. This is why Advent is a good time to practice waiting and being patient.
Another reason we run is that it requires self-awareness. We spend so much energy hiding the things we do not like about ourselves or the things we fear others will not like. God is already aware of these things. He already sees everything about us. We do not need to hide things from him. He wants to reveal to us our inner selves, and to help us love ourselves the way he loves us. This is a painful but beautiful process. God is truth. We cannot stand before God if we do not stand in the truth of who we are. We cannot see ourselves unless we grow in humility, and trust that God and others can love us as we are. We must become vulnerable, and trust that even when we feel rejected, we are loved.
God wants to share his divinity with us. Let us use this period of preparing for Jesus’ past coming and future coming with prayer and a desire to grow in intimacy with the one thing that can fill the void within us.
Spend some time today reflecting on your oil. How do you pray? What can you do better during this season? What can you do to prepare the manger of your heart to receive the baby Jesus in a more open and contrite manner? How can you show him your gratitude for his having humbled himself; his act of adding a component of the created to his divine nature? Take these thoughts to prayer, and then make an action plan for living an effective advent season.