The saying: "Better late than never" holds true. I meant to post this article at the start of Advent but I never got around to it. I'd say there were many distractions that kept me. But here it is with just two more days till Christmas.
My family and I certainly did not start off with our best feet forward at the beginning of Advent. As my family and I hurried to get to Mass I started asking myself: what does Advent mean to me?
We were really, really late. It was embarrassing because we seem to not learn. We missed the first and second readings and even the Gospel. Father was in the middle of his homily already so we decided to wait to enter until he finished. I could barely hear because the speakers were not working properly on our corner of the church. So that meant that I missed the homily too. Then my thoughts traveled back to my initial question.
The meaning of Advent tends to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the season. We all have our wish lists and to do lists and it can all get hectic and stressful. We act like St. Martha many times -- worriedly rushing to prepare and cook our favorite foods and baked goodies, buying presents for ourselves and loved ones, mailing Christmas greeting cards, decorating the inside and outside of the house. There's so much to do and it seems like we're always on a time crunch. The truth is that we make Christmas all about ourselves.
But if you think about the beginnings of Christmas, wasn't it all peaceful and silent with the birth of the most perfect human being that ever lived? If we focus on the Christ Child He can help us answer our questions about Advent.
Mary, Joseph, the wise men, and the shepherds and animals knew. On that cold, winter night, all fell silent and still. All were in awe with the perfect greatness and presence among them. They all adored Him.
Several months ago the retired priest at our parish was giving a homily that really struck a chord. During his homily my eyes welled up and I felt chills rushing through me because of a simple, powerful phrase. The priest said Jesus is telling us, "Show me, show me how much you love me."
I believe that is what Advent is all about. The Child Jesus is telling us just that: "Show me how much you love me." Maybe it's not enough to get all the cooking done, to check off everything on our Christmas gift lists, and to get all those Christmas cards done on time. Jesus is telling us that there is so much more.
To me Advent is about recommitting myself to Christ. It's about putting Christ first above everything else. It's about committing to getting to church early to pray and adore Him, committing to family prayer and devotions, and almsgiving. For me it's about teaching my son the faith. I think Advent means something different for every one of us.
For others, preparing for Advent could look like going to daily Mass for the rest of Advent and the Christmas season. Or what about going to midnight Mass with the family? After Mass have a midnight snack and talk about the humbling experience of the very first Christmas. What was it like for Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in the manger? What about volunteering at a soup kitchen or a crisis pregnancy center to help those in need? Advent is about sharing Christ with others.
To really show Christ love means to be dynamic Catholics in action. It's doing what others would rather not do. It's not always easy but let's face it -- what Jesus did for us was not easy. Now is the time to show Christ how much we really, truly love Him.
The song that I remember from the first Sunday of Advent during Communion was Christ Be Our Light. It's so fitting because it's such a cheerful, optimistic prayer. I love it because it's like starting anew and asking Christ to help us lead the way during Advent. So ask Jesus to be your light during this Advent and Christmas season. Ask Him to show you what Advent means to you. Let the Lord of lords and the King of kings be your light and your peace for a blessed Christmas season for you and your loved ones.