What are you looking forward to? It dawned on me this week as I was talking to some folks about their kids, that despite all the work, pressure, and obligation that students are under at this time of year, there is an underlying upbeat anticipation that gives them a contagious positive outlook. Sure, they may have tests and papers and weeks of class to slog through yet, but summer is coming; graduation is just around the corner, and high school or college (or first grade, for that matter) beckons with excitement and possibility.
It seems everyone, young and old, has a lot to do this time of year, but there is a fundamental cheer that buoys us along. It may be as simple as the weather. As odd as this spring has been, the weather promises to keep getting better, and that makes folks happier.
Summer also means a respite for most folks; if not a long vacation, at least a relaxation of the pace and pressure at work. Traffic thins out, and our commutes improve. Add an increase in social time, with these same people who seem to be in such a good mood, and that is worth working toward.
The crush is now upon us, but that is okay. It seems people are willing to work to achieve something good that is tangibly close, letting anticipation be motivation.
One of the biggest things people are excited about is First Holy Communion, coming up next weekend. Our second-graders have been preparing for this for a year or more. Their excitement is palpable enough to overflow to their families, who show an eagerness that matches that of their youngsters.
Of course they are excited about the event itself, which is one of my favorites of the year here at Saint Bernadette. The suits or dresses, the visiting relatives and parties, and of course, a gift or three on top of all that, are doubtless on their minds. But they also know that something else is coming, something that will change them and change their relationship with Jesus in a lasting and marvelous way.
To receive the Body and Blood of Jesus, accepting His Soul and Divinity as food for our soul that transforms our humanity, is a miracle that children in their straightforwardness rightly find exhilarating.
What about us? I do it every day, sometimes more than once. You do it at least every week, or know you should. As we manage whatever logistics we require to bring ourselves and our families to the sublime moment of Holy Communion, do we take even a moment to anticipate what it promises? Do we pause long enough to focus on the change that will comes with this day’s visit to our bodies of the Living God in the flesh, who strides toward us in His perfect knowledge of us, and great love for us? Are we able to muster the joyful anticipation of a toddler for the return of a parent, or are we more like the indifferent high-schooler, who when forced to greet, will grunt?
Nurture the joyful anticipation that provides motivation. Prepare our souls as we clean and order our homes for a beloved guest, and present ourselves as we would offer a carefully chosen gift, beautifully wrapped and eagerly delivered. When what we are working toward promises to be good, the work itself is not crushing, but rather we are energized for it by what we expect. Summer comes and summer goes, but Christ Jesus is the true Sun who never sets. Behold, He comes; what are you looking forward to?