I began my homily this weekend by noticing that something was missing in the chapel. In front of the altar there were an angel, and a shepherd, and a sheep, a cow and a donkey, and a man and woman who seemed to be worshiping a napkin. In the place where the center of the display should have been, there was only an empty space. So, I took a purse from one of the ladies at the Mass and filled the space with it. It was a large, brown purse and it filled the space quite well.
The problem with life is that something is missing. We aren’t sure what exactly we expected to find in life, but whatever we have isn’t what we expected. The temptation is to fill that space with whatever we happen to have on hand, whether it is food or money, shopping or movies, friends or family. In fact, the several weeks leading up to Christmas look like one big orgy designed to fill every possible crack in our lives with something. The result is a misshapen life, like trying to fill a nativity scene with a purse. There is a haunting beauty to emptiness, a beauty that draws the soul, but emptiness stuffed with the first available thing is like a woman who dates idiots because she is lonely.
With a purse filing the nativity scene, there isn’t any room for the baby Jesus to come. A full life is not able to accept the gift of the Son of God. Advent is a moment to take out what has been filling our life up to this point, so that we will have space for the Lord to come. The problem is, the Lord comes when he is ready to come, and not when we demand him. We have to keep vigil by the emptiness, protecting it from invasion, so that whenever the Lord is ready to fill our life, we will be able to receive him.