by Fr. Keith Branson, C.PP.S., Publications Editor
This is the Hot Stove season for baseball. The World Series is over, the MVPs, Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers and Cy Youngs have been awarded, the confetti from the victory parades is swept up. Now is the time when teams evaluate where they are and start making long range decisions: whose options to pick up, what free agents to pursue, who to claim on waivers or release, what trades to contemplate. It’s a time when teams set their course for the future, take stock of where they are and how they can improve, hopefully. There’s a basic human attraction for rumors, and this is the time to enjoy them since player movement rumors are ultimately harmless.
But Hot Stove season isn’t the regular season. Many teams have claimed the title during Hot Stove and been busts by September. The players are doing their off season conditioning and playing winter league games, trying to improve their skills and get noticed. The games that matter still have to be played, and that’s in the future.
Advent is a kind of Hot Stove season. It’s a time we can reflect on where we are, what’s basic to our lives and our faith, make some tough decisions of what to let go and what to invest in. It’s a time to lear new skills, try new positions. A hopeful time, it gets us ready for what’s to come, but sometimes we forget the big celebration isn’t here yet. Putting all the emphasis on the Hot Stove season can mean disappointment when the regular season finally arrives.
As we travel Advent, it’s good to remember this is where we are all year round: a Pentecost people awaiting Christ’s return. How we use this time makes a difference, especially if we try to pull Christmas in too early, wear out our Jingle Bells before the snow falls. Here and now is a good time, a blessed time, a time to grow and a time to focus on Christ’s presence in a special way. The Hot Stove season is important, and we must do it well if the seasons to follow are going to be good ones.