Advent: Decking Our Souls for the Nativity of Christ
COMMENTARY: This season is like cleaning the house for a Christmas party.
During the month of December, many people spend their time preparing for Christmas. People plan food, shop and spend hours decorating their halls with boughs of holly. This is altogether fitting for a beautiful holiday. But a few days after Christmas, or, at most, the feast of the Epiphany, in many households, all the presents will be opened, with some returned, and the food will have been eaten and the decorations taken down or thrown into the trash.
How sad that so much time is spent in physical preparation for the day marking the Nativity of the Son of God, but so little time is spent in spiritual preparation for the holy day itself.
For this preparation to be true, one must understand that there are three comings of Christ. The first is his coming in time, which occurred 2,000 years ago. The whole human race spent centuries preparing for this coming in which the Word of God took flesh in the Virgin Mary and was shown to the world in order to die on the cross and save us from sin. All the prophets prepared for this coming. The last and greatest of them, St. John the Baptist, completes this preparation with his baptism. “I baptize you with water … but he who is coming after me is mightier that I. … He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3:11).
We know the day and the hour of this coming. But this coming looks forward to another coming.
We do not know the time for the coming of Christ at the end of time. He, who once came in time in humility, obedience and suffering, will come in power and glory as the judge of the living and the dead. We are called upon to: “Stay awake, for you do not know the day or the hour” (Matthew 25:13).
The judgment of Christ at the end of time will be based on how much one has imitated his love in humility and obedience on earth.
Those of us who live now stand between the first coming of Christ in time and his second coming in eternity. In light of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, and looking forward to the final judgment of Our Lord, we are asked in the season of Advent to address a third coming: the one in the depths of our souls.
Christ found a chilly reception when he came into the world 2,000 years ago. There was no room at the inn because the innkeeper was preoccupied with other things.
Today, one needs to ask, “What kind of reception will Christ find in our hearts this Christmas?” Will he find a distracted and egotistical life based on materialism where there will be no room for him? Will it be a place filled with the noise of disordered love, which leads to the rejection of all Christ offers to us and a lack of mercy to others?
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