“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” (Lk 10,23f)
O come, Desired of nations! This week we have set out again on our Advent journey. As we begin this journey we set our spiritual itinerary and we plot our course. Before we set out we should fix our starting point. Every fruitful journey starts from the beginning with the first step. Long before the Magi ever arrived at the manger of the Christ child to offer their gifts, long before they ever set out on their journey to follow the star, even before the Magi began to study their charts, they were set upon a path of seeking by a desiring heart. The journey that brought them to the Christ child began with a desire, a desire for something wonderful such as the world had never seen. Deep in their interior being the Magi Kings each experienced a longing for something great and marvelous, something that the world could not offer, something that could only come from the heavens. Their desire pointed the way to the Christ whom they would come to adore.
Advent begins with a desire. “Come, Lord Jesus.” The world often expresses desire by asking the question, “What do you want for Christmas?” A sweater just doesn’t seem to adequately express the desire that God has hidden in our hearts. We can make a list of our desires but there doesn’t really seem to be any thing that we can write down that will bring us the joy that our hearts long for. When we try to fill the infinite space that God has created for himself in our interior being with material things of this world, we experience only emptiness and disappointment. If we are going to get life right, we need to get desire right.
God has created us with a desiring heart. The desire of our heart is infinite. St. Augustine came to recognize this, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” If we try to find our happiness and contentment in the material things of this world we will be unfulfilled. Whether we have discovered it or not, our hearts are meant to yearn for God. “O God, you are my God – for you I long! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, like a land parched, lifeless, and without water. So I look to you in the sanctuary to see your power and glory. For your love is better than life; my lips offer you worship!” (Ps 63,1-4) “My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the Lord. My heart and flesh cry out for the living God…Happy are those who find refuge in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrim roads.” (Ps 84,3.6) “My soul longs for your salvation; I put my hope in your word. My eyes long to see your promise. When will you comfort me?” (Ps 119,81f) Our heart’s desire sets us on a journey to find a love that will fulfill the longing of our hearts. “On my bed at night I sought him whom my heart loves – I sought him but I did not find him. I will rise then and go about the city; in the streets and crossings I will seek Him whom my heart loves. I sought him but I did not find him.” (Songs 3,1f)
Too often our desires become disordered by our experience in the world (and on the internet). Disordered desire is the root of every capital sin – lust, envy, jealousy, greed, gluttony, pride, sloth and wrath – all of these have their roots in disordered desire. When we desire the wrong thing then we follow a wrong path in life and our life becomes a ruin. The world loves to feed our disordered desire and offers us every kind of vice. Black Friday is a swamp of disordered desire. If we have fallen into disordered desires (and many of you have) we need to purify our hearts and reorder our desire. Confession of our disordered desires is a good beginning.
Advent is a time to reorder our desires and to consciously center our desire on appropriate things. During Advent we order our desire to the good, to the Coming of the Lord, to joyful hope and anticipation of our encounter with Jesus. Jesus is the Desired of nations as we express in the O antiphon, “O King of the nations and their Desire, the Cornerstone who binds two into one: come and save mankind, whom you fashioned from clay.” Daily prayer, daily reading of the Scriptures and Advent devotions can set our desire on the Coming of Christ Jesus. This time of Advent waiting increases our desire for our encounter with Christ. During Advent we read from the book of the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah is a book of desire for the Christ and for salvation. Pay close attention to these readings in lectio. Watching is the attitude of the desiring heart. “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let the hearer say, “Come.” Let the one who thirsts come forward, and the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water.” (Rev 22,17)
Like the little child that waits on the doorstep for dad or mom to come home from work, so our souls should be watchful and waiting on the Lord this Advent season. “Yes, I am coming soon.” (Rev 22,20) Come, Lord Jesus!