The first Sunday of Advent occurs this weekend. That means Christmas is coming really soon. Have you started your gift shopping? How about the decorations? Planning the parties? There’s so much to do and so little time!
The season of Advent is a time to prepare, but what exactly what are we to prepare for? It’s not the parties, gift giving, or how many lights you can string together before blowing a fuse. Advent is calling us to prepare for Jesus’ coming, not only as an infant thousands of years ago, but also His coming in glory at the end of time. The feast of Christmas marks Jesus’ first coming, when He was born of Mary and lived as a man. His mission was to bring salvation of the Kingdom of God to all the earth through His Passion, Death and Resurrection. After completing this mission, He ascended into heaven, setting the expectation of His return, or His second coming. While Jesus is always with us through the Church, His Mystical Body, and He remains with us in a remarkable and intimate way in the Eucharist, both His humanity and His glory are hidden from us. Advent invites us to prepare our hearts for Jesus. We look at Jesus’ first coming to remind ourselves that God became one of us in order that we might become His adopted children. True to His promise, Jesus is with us always, but we look forward to His return at the end of time when we will see Him in His glory.
When preparing to decorate for Christmas, we have to take stock of the everyday items that make up our home decor. Chances are a good number of those items need to be packed up and stored away while the Christmas items are out. And in the midst of the transition, we probably do a cleaning of those spaces, otherwise everyone will see just how much dust can collect. Similarly, we need to take stock of our spiritual life and see what needs to be cleaned up. We look at our prayer life to see if it’s really central in our lives, or if it has been packed away like the Christmas decorations. To purchase a gift for someone, we examine how well we know the person and from what we know, we attempt to pick something they will like or that is meaningful to them. Suppose the gift were for Jesus, how well do we know Him?
But this season is so hectic, how can you spend more time in prayer and on your spiritual life? Maybe it’s a few less decorations or one less party. Maybe it’s donating to a mission or charity in honor of those with whom you normally exchange gifts. The decor, gifts, and parties are meant to be a sharing of our joy in the season, not the goal themselves. Perhaps Advent is all about considering that if Jesus’ second coming was December 25th, 2019, would you be ready?