The Advent Season
Preparing for the Coming of the Lord…
In the Gospel of St. Mark, Jesus warns us:
“What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? What could one give in exchange for his life? Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” -Mark 8:36-38, NAB
Are you ready for Christmas? No, I’m not talking about your shopping list. Are you spiritually prepared for the coming of the Lord? Have you set your heart toward Heaven, or are you caught up in the commercialization of the holiday?
In today’s verse, Jesus tells us that He will come again, and His Second Coming is one of the primary focuses of Advent. Advent is not just about Christmas and Jesus’ birth. It is actually about preparing our hearts for the coming of Christ in three different ways.
First, we celebrate the birth of Christ: the first time He came into the world. Next, we celebrate the Eucharist: the way He comes back to us, each and every day. Finally, as Jesus describes in the Gospel of St. Mark, we are celebrating the hope of His Second Coming: a time when He will come back to us once and for all.
These are excellent reasons to celebrate, so we must prepare ourselves properly. At one time, Advent used to be more like Lent – a time of fasting and preparation. Now, our only preparations seem to involve long lines at big box stores and keeping tabs on the credit card. Maybe, just maybe, we need to get that original focus back again.
Christmas should be one of the greatest feasts of the year (second only to Easter, in my humble opinion), and it is great that we celebrate it with such grandeur. Unfortunately, the celebrations are beginning to overshadow the true meaning of the holiday, and society seems to be growing darker and darker every year because of it.
Instead of prayer, fasting, and reflective contemplation, we spend our days pushing and shoving in line to save an extra 20%. Instead of teaching our kids about celebrating Christ’s birth, their only concern is what they will find under the Christmas tree. Christmas is more about dollars and cents than it is about souls and Saviors.
We cannot change how society has corrupted the beauty of the Advent season, but we can change how we celebrate it. Spend the next month being thankful for the wonderful blessings in your life. Take time to talk with God through prayer. Offer Christ the wonderful gifts of fasting and penance, just as the wise men came bearing gifts. Make this the most special Christmas that you have ever had.
Our Lord has come, and He will come again. Make this Advent a time of preparation for the feast of Christmas. A month of sacrifice and reflection will make this Christmas feast seem all that more special.