Ready the way! Each year on the Second Sunday of Advent, we hear readings which focus on preparing for the coming of the Savior. The prophet Isaiah tells of the voice in the desert; (John the Baptist) calling to prepare the way of the Lord. The mountains will be made low, the valleys filled, the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people shall see it together! My particular favorite verse today is “Comfort! Give comfort to my people.” (Is. 40—1) In this particularly difficult time/year, we all are stressed, on edge, or just good old-fashioned burned out! How can we prepare the way today? How can we prepare a place in our hearts for the Lord when we are weary? Advent is a time of renewal as we celebrate the seasonal reminder of the presence of God with us. Indeed, the presence of God IN us. With God in us, we can heed the call of Isaiah who calls us to be comforters, to speak tenderly. And, in these difficult times, we can assure each other that like a shepherd, God feeds us, gathers us, carries us, and leads us with care. As we navigate our Advent and Christmas preparations during this time of pandemic, however that may look for you, let's bring God's comfort to all!
I love the feel that Advent has. There is a joy, an energy that rivals nothing else. When we can keep Advent separate from Christmas, it makes Christmas all the better. Advent is a time of hopeful anticipation. It is a time to prepare for Jesus coming. In retrospect, it is the preparation Mary and Joseph took in awaiting his arrival. For us it is waiting for the day of Christmas. It is also the waiting for his triumphant return. It is this last point that we must always focus on – are we ready? Scripture tells us that we will not know the date nor will we know the time, but will we be ready? That is what we should be spending our time doing during Advent. That is what we should be spending every day preparing for. We should be preparing the way for the Lord every day! We are to take a renewed interest in our relationship with God, with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit to claim the joy that is there for us always. With that in mind, I share this video with you. I hope you enjoy it as we work to get ready for Jesus this Advent.
Advent is like springtime in nature when everything is renewed, fresh, and healthy. Advent refreshes us, makes us healthy and able to receive Christ in whatever form he may come to us. At Christmas, he comes as a little child, small, helpless, and in need of his mother and all that a mother’s love can give. His mother’s humility enabled her to serve. If we really want God to fill us, we must empty ourselves through humility of all the selfishness within us. – Mother Teresa of Calcutta (Thirsting for God, 2000)
"We Don't Really Celebrate Advent"
A priest friend remarked this to me one Advent. He is right; we easily get caught up in preparing for the festivities of Christmas: decorating the house and tree, buying and wrapping gifts, shopping for and preparing Christmas Dinner. Even our staff can get caught up in preparing more for Christmas Masses than entering into Advent.
Coincidently, Advent is a season of preparation: a time to prepare our hearts, minds, and souls for the coming of Christ: “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.” We prepare to celebrate the historical event of the incarnation: of God becoming Man. We are challenged to prepare ourselves for the moment we are called home to Christ. We are also called to prepare for the second coming of Christ at the end of time.
In this year plagued by the Coronavirus, it will be easy to mourn our “normal” Christmas traditions, as we are asked to celebrate with immediate family only. Many gifts will need to be mailed (or sent directly via Amazon) to loved ones. We will miss out on some of the hugs and laughs we often share with extended family. The Christmas kids table will be a breakout room on Zoom.
Instead of mourning our normal Christmas, let us choose to view this as an invitation. An invitation to prepare less for the festivities of Christmas and enter into the season of Advent. Doing so will lead us to a greater understanding of God’s mercy and allow us to embrace God’s love more fully.