No question - Advent is a marvellous season, of anticipation of the parousia and memories of divine promises fulfilled in Christ. Yet I need to be a bit silly today (and, with how cold it is, my brain hasn't thawed out), so I'm sure I'll be forgiven if I 'rerun' a story I mentioned a few years ago. As with all my anecdotes, this one is perfectly true.
Winter blues and loneliness (all the worse knowing that winter has not even started as yet, and the cold is already getting to me) have put a damper on my quickness. I am not ready, at the moment, to write of Israel's expectation, the Incarnation, or the church waiting in joyful hope... though I'll get to it eventually. For the moment, I shall share a memory of my days with the friars.
Father Michael was unusually short and slight, but highly expansive, and his gestures tended to be fit for a man the size of Goliath of Gath. Michael was Italian, and had learnt his English from a woman who had a very high, light voice, whom he imitated a bit too well. Consequently, he spoke English (though not his native tongue) in an extremely squeaky voice. The combination of massive gestures and chirping tones gave a general effect of a jumping-jack in an uncharacteristic brown costume.
Michael's warmth and sincerity were enormous as he reminded his congregation, during an Advent sermon, that this was a time when "we have to thank God for the c-u-u-u-te little-a beby Jesus!" (No, for once that is not a typographical error - I'm trying to truly catch the flavour.) Raising his arms over his head like the risen Messiah, Michael expounded, "The great God!!!" (Hands now at breast height, illustrating the size of an ample newborn.) "He became-a so small!" Michael's sermon continued for a time, with repeated references to the 'great God who became-a so small,' and, though I was biting my lip not to laugh aloud, many of the congregation were moved nearly to tears. (Franciscan theology can be odd at times - but their sermons do stimulate a sense of the vivid.)
I was congratulating myself for not having lapsed into a laughing fit - which would have been most uncomfortable for a highly visible director of music. And all went well until Michael's little voice piped, "Behold-a the lamb of (pronounced 'lay-ma') God!"
I may have retained what little was left of my composure had the friar next to me not whispered, "He became-a so small!"