There are many words which could be used to describe the Advent season, but one that strikes me as particularly appropriate this year is “yearning.”  The scriptures of Advent, especially the words of the prophet Isaiah, capture the yearning of a people who were “walking in darkness” and longed to be brought into the light.  The people yearned to be set free from foreign domination.  They yearned to be restored to their homeland.  They yearned to return to the temple in order to offer right worship of God.  They yearned for the long-promised Messiah who would restore the land to glory.

I think this Advent season gives us an opportunity to think about the yearnings we hold in our hearts.  I know for myself, after a few days of retreat without the need for mask wearing, I am yearning for a return to the normal life of pre-Covid.  I yearn to return to traveling to New Jersey, or anywhere else for that matter, without the need for quarantining on my return.  I yearn for the day when we can invite all of our parishioners back to church without the worry of capacity limits and hand sanitizers. I yearn for the day when I can accept invitations to join friends and their families for a dinner. Maybe we all yearning for exactly the same things, except maybe yearning to travel to New Jersey.  This year of 2020 has taught us all the powerful longings all we have for the simple and normal things of life.

Flowing from these yearnings for the simple things, it is my hope for myself that I use this Advent season to ponder more deeply the yearning I have for the most important thing, that is God.  At the heart of the longings we have for all of the things we have been deprived of for the last few months is really the yearning we have for God.  As St. Augustine wrote 1500 years ago, “We are restless until we rest in God.”  So as we enter into Advent, as we prepare for Christmas, as we prepare for a life post-Covid, as we get ready for our first trip outside of the state, or plan a vacation abroad, as we plan a multi-family get together, or a journey to Fenway Park, let’s remember that our deepest longing, the greatest yearning we have is for the love of God that is shown forth in His Son, Jesus Christ.

This Advent, may the yearning we have for returning to a “normal” life after Covid, help us consider the yearning we have for the love that only God can provide.

Stay well and God bless,

Msgr. John J. McDermott

Vicar General