One of the first prayers of Mass is called the “collect”. It is in the very beginning of the liturgy right after the priest says “let us pray”. Some of these “collects” are quite cumbersome since the new translation came a little more than a decade ago because they translated these opening prayers directly from the Latin. Most of these translations though, can be rich and beautiful and powerful prayers for us to contemplate.
For the Second Sunday of Advent, this is the Collect (with Father added because that is who we are addressing at Mass):
Almighty and merciful God (Father), may no earthly undertaking hinder those who set out in haste to meet your Son, but may our learning of heavenly wisdom gain us admittance to his company. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
How beautiful is this prayer? Chances are we aren’t using language like “hinder” when we are praying to our Father, but this collect is perfect for us as we advance through Advent. It fits perfectly with our Gospel this weekend where everyone is coming out into the desert to see John the Baptist. Think about all of these people in the Holy Land, leaving their earthly responsibilities behind and being drawn out by their hunger for God. They all set out in haste to learn about the coming of the savior who John is not “worthy to loosen the straps of his sandals”.
These people who go out in haste to see John the Baptist…you can almost feel their desire. They have been waiting for this Savior for about 600 years. The excitement must have been incredible. This desire, this excitement, is what is at the heart of our Second Sunday of Advent. It is a spiritual attitude worth praying for: Father, May nothing going on in my life get in the way of the desire you put inside of me to know your newborn Son.
Spend some time this week with this collect and pray for that desire which led those to go out to be Baptized by John.
May the Lord give you His peace,