Time is going by rather fast isn’t it? We are already into December, and come December 31, we all will be getting ready to say goodbye to the old year – 2016 – and ring on the new. So for almost the entire world, the new year starts on January 1st. However, for the Catholic Church, the new year begins in Advent. When you think about it, it really is a fantastic time to begin the Church’s year. So Happy New Year to all my Catholic sisters and brothers.
During Advent, the Church focuses on the coming of The King of all kings – Jesus Christ – and she challenges the faithful to “prepare ye a way for the coming of Christ the King” in all the ways that He comes to us. So rather than the secular way of welcoming in the New Year by making lots of New Year resolutions, the Church challenges us to be ready for Christ Jesus and to be welcoming ‘Inn-keepers’ that are open to and welcome His coming. During Advent, the Church challenges us to do an inventory of our lives; to take stock of ourselves and of all the things in our lives that crowd out Jesus and causes us not to have room in our hearts for Him. A beautiful way of doing this is to measure ourselves with Jesus. In fact, Jesus challenges us to “Be ye perfect just as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” (Ref. Matthew 5:48) This particular verse ends chapter 5 of Matthew’s gospel in which Jesus is speaking about loving your enemies. Now I know that this may seem to be an impossible task, but the Word of God also assures us that God’s grace is more than enough (Ref. 2 Corinthians 12:9).
I have found that a really great way to prepare to Advent or to take stock of my life is to look very closely at 1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 13
4 Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, 5 it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances. 6 Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. 7 It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes. 8 Love never comes to an end. But if there are prophecies, they will be done away with; if tongues, they will fall silent; and if knowledge, it will be done away with. 9 For we know only imperfectly, and we prophesy imperfectly; 10 but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will be done away with. 11 When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and see things as a child does, and think like a child; but now that I have become an adult, I have finished with all childish ways. 12 Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known. 13 As it is, these remain: faith, hope and love, the three of them; and the greatest of them is love.
Now let us put this in context as we journey through Advent. We are made in the image and the likeness of God our Father, and God is Love. We were made in love and for Love – every single one of us. Unfortunately, there is something in us all – something with “I” in the centre, that keeps us from being who we were created to be. That something is sin. Sin causes us to be the complete opposite of love.
Sin causes us to be impatient and unkind.
Sin causes us to be jealous and envious.
Sin causes us to be boastful and conceited. St. Paul reminds us that if we are to boast, let it b about the Lord Jesus Christ (Ref. 1 Corinthians 1:31, 2 Corinthians 10:17)
It is sin that causes us to be rude
It is sin that causes us to be prejudicial and judgmental
It is sin that causes division in our homes and in our society
It is our sin that grieves the heart of God and that separates us from God. Advent challenges us to b ready for the coming of Jesus – not only His second coming, but also in the many ways that He can and may want to come to us. The only way that we can truly b ready for His come is to get rid of sin; to stop wanting to be at the centre and let Jesus be the centre of our lives. There is a beautiful song that comes to mind here that tells us exactly what Advent says to us:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
The Holy Catholic Church presents us with the opportunity to do exactly what these words say. She does so the form of Eucharistic Adoration. All we need to do is to completely surrender ourselves before our Lord – withholding nothing. He will do the rest. He will transform us. He will make us ready for His next coming into our lives – what ever form that may take.
May God grant you; may God grant me; may God grant us all the grace to turn away from every sin in our lives and turn our eyes and our hearts towards Jesus Christ His Son, so that we all will be ready for His coming in every situation in our lives; and finally, when we have breathed our last breath, may we be ready to stand before Him. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray. AMEN!
Have a Happy and Holy Advent