Nothing builds a sense of anxiousness more than when we are waiting for something to happen. Take for example our current difficulties with the pandemic. We are all anxious as we wait for a vaccine. Our anxiousness is related to how the pandemic has changed all our lives, from going to Mass to work and school. Even the simple tasks such as shopping or the simple pleasures such as dining out with family and friends now cause us anxiety.

People the world over have always had certain activities or tasks that have made them anxious, such as when we are waiting for a flight to take off that has been delayed because of bad weather or even worse mechanical issues. We become anxious when we are waiting for a family member to return home on a stormy night. We become anxious when we are waiting for the results of a medical test. We become anxious waiting to hear if we got the job we had been interviewing for. In each of these situations we are not simply waiting, we are actively waiting. We are never sitting by idly; we are always actively waiting. By saying prayers, we turn our fears and anxiety into a good by communicating with our Lord.

We don’t simply wait filled with fear and anxiety; we know we must turn our fears and anxieties over to the Lord. “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near.” (Isaiah 55:6) The prophet Isaiah encourages Israel to actively seek God as they wait for their return from exile. God also actively waits for the return of the people of the covenant by giving a prophetic message to Isaiah: “Let the scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked his thoughts; let him turn to the Lord for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving.” (Isaiah 55:7) As God actively waited for Israel’s response, God sowed the seeds of faith with the promise of a messiah who would establish an everlasting Kingdom.

The Kingdom is a powerful image in the Gospel of Matthew. The Kingdom is found in the community of the Church. It is Matthew who uses the description for the community gathered together as Ecclesia, from which our word Church derives its name. Church is not the building or the institution, rather Church is the community gathered together. It is within the community gathered together that the image of the Kingdom of God can be clearly seen.

The community actively waits for the coming of the Lord in the fullness of glory and, in actively waiting, the community realizes the kingdom here and now even as it actively waits for the fullness of God’s kingdom when Christ comes in the fullness of his glory. “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for the vineyard.” (Matthew 20: l-16a) We are those laborers who are asked to work in the vineyard of the Lord and realize God’s kingdom here and now. As laborers, we are also actively waiting for the Lord, not by being idle, but by actively participating in the building up of God’s kingdom here and now in preparation for the future coming of the Lord in the fullness of his glory.

The Apostle Paul tells us this active waiting is reflected in how we live our lives as Christian people: “conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ.” (Philippians 1:24). So just as the laborers were waiting to be hired, it was the Lord who actively waited for them to be ready to be hired. As Psalm 145 reminds us, “The Lord is near to all who call upon him.” As we actively wait, we pray, and we build up the kingdom and we call upon the Lord. As we call upon the Lord, we also have to be ready to receive the kingdom.

When we think of active waiting, we think of it in terms of ourselves. We don’t necessarily think of God as actively waiting. No one has done more active waiting than God. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob waited for their descendants to respond to the call to the divine initiative of salvation.

God sent a prophetic message through the prophet Isaiah and God actively waited with the people of Israel in exile in Babylon. God waited 70 years with his people so that he could accompany them on their return to the promised land. During that time of active waiting God was preparing them for salvation which came through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus actively waited on the cross as he suffered and died for our sins and he continues to actively wait for us to repent from our sins and receive eternal life. How are you actively waiting as you prepare for the coming of the Lord?