December 19th, 2013 Posted in writing

In talking to the crowds one day about John the Baptist, Jesus asked them what they had expected to see when they went out to John at the Jordan. In the last week or so I’ve been thinking about how important the question of expectations is. It applies, after all, to many things — What do I expect to see? What do I expect to hear? What do I think will happen?

Just like in our lives generally, in our relationship with God we have expectations, too, some of which are met and some of which are not, or at least not in the ways we expected. Sometimes we get what we want, sometimes more than we want and sometimes less.

As we move closer to Christmas, take time to ask yourself what you expect from Christmas this year. Maybe you’ll have a Christmas beyond your wildest dreams or, perhaps, one that stretches you in ways you’d rather not be stretched. Both can be occasions of grace if we let God deal with us as he wishes.

Remember what the Rolling Stones sang: “You can’t always get what you want . . . but you just might find, sometimes, you get what you need.” (It may not be Scripture, but it’s pretty accurate.)

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!!


  1. One Response to “Expectations”

  2. By Fr. Frank Majka, S.J. on Dec 30, 2013

    From Mike Martin:

    Thanks for sharing your blog on expectations. My first reaction was the old quote: “Realization is the assassination of anticipation.” Then I carried that word with me for the last few days and thought about it on many levels: parenthood, teaching, business, and spirituality.

    · Parenthood. Babies are born expectations. When I gazed upon my sons, the questions were enormous: Who would they be? How could I be a father – I knew nothing? Time ultimately answers those question, with a stringing together of incidents and some overarching values. Now the boys are fathers, husbands, lovers, friends, sons, uncles, sportsmen, teachers, and men. I acquired some parenting skill, mostly by watching my wife, remembering my father, and turning them over to God.

    · Teaching. My career has taken many turns; from chemical engineer, to business development, to University Intellectual Property Manager, to University Technology Transfer consultant. In all of them, I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to teach – to translate complex concepts into actionable items that students can use to grow, to translate their dreams into some form of reality. My expectations were the questions: Will they hear me? Will I be able to translate this language of engineering, business, or law into language so they can take action? Some times and for some people the process works. Then I see the fire in their eyes.

    · Business. Most of my career has been strategic rather than tactical. The former always results in the latter; but I have had the fortune in participating in a number of strategic plan development sessions for many different enterprises. These exercises are all about expectations driven by the mission or nature of the human organization: whether a for profit, or a not for profit, or educational, a community, or a Church. The questions are: Who are we? How do we express that mission for what we have defined as success? Most of these are 3 to 5 year plans, and the answers can change every year or two; except “Who are we?” That answer does take longer to change; but, inexorably, it does.

    · Spiritually. I thought of St. John the Baptist and my own spiritual journey. Both of us have grown. My growth was not chronicled as well as John’s. Can you image his expectations; and the answers, as opposed to all of the other prophets, of his questions: Who is the messiah? How will I relate to Him? He meet Jesus and decided he was unworthy to tie his sandals. Jesus disabused him of that notion. I have had the fortune of a spiritual awakening. It has been a process of awareness of God’s role in my life. I ask for courage/grace to love without condition and to give service without reserve. Some times and for some people it works and I feel happy.

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