Christmas lights… shopping lists… holiday music on the radio… Everywhere we turn we see the world already starting to celebrate Christmas. Maybe “celebrate” isn’t even the right word. It seems we are just ready to start the partying aspect of the holiday rather than using our time put our hearts into the season of Christmas.
This is pretty much where the readings and Gospel from this week are taking us. There is work left to do and preparations that need to be made when we desire a relationship with God. See, we just don’t “have” a party. We must first take time to plan it. Then once we have everything in order, we need to get the house ready, make the food, create the right environment and make sure everything is perfect for our guests to arrive. It seems during Advent we have forgotten to “get our house in order” because we have commercialized the holiday and pushed Jesus aside in the process.
Advent calls us to re-focus our attention on our Catholic faith as we prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ. To make our hearts ready for the Light of the World, our Savior, to come into our hearts as we celebrate His birth. Don’t get me wrong, I love everything the holiday season brings from decorating my tree with my family to baking cookies and getting together with friends, but it wasn’t until I thought about how I was getting myself ready to experience Christmas in a new way that it all became more special. When I allowed the journey of Advent to once again be about my faith, every day leading up to December 25 was exciting because I treated them no differently than I would be when the big day finally came.
We have to be what God wants, not what the world is trying to get us to be. Not only are the readings and the Gospel today telling us to prepare ourselves and be ready for when Christ comes, they are telling us that even if we claim to be ready then our actions cannot be contradictory to what we believe. Many people desire a relationship of faith but aren’t able to give up the things of this world which lead them further away from God. It’s why our attention on material items and other secular distractions take our eyes off the true importance of the season.
We are not only accountable to ourselves, we are accountable to each other. Use Advent as a chance to invite someone to church who hasn’t been to a while. An opportunity to help that one friend who is struggling by inviting them to your next parish event. It’s the time we prepare ourselves to be “the manger” in which we offer Jesus a place to dwell so others can find Him.
My pastor has a magnet on his refrigerator that says, “Jesus is coming, look busy.” In that spirit, let us continually make room for Jesus to be part of everything we do as we actively work to prepare for Christmas. We will then be ready to “walk in the light of the Lord” (Is 2:5), “conduct ourselves properly” (Rom 13:13), and “stay awake”(Mt 24:42) this entire Advent season. It is then that time does not pass us by and opportunities to once again.