My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
May the Peace of the Lord be with you.
Today is the third Sunday of Advent (notice the pink candle burning on the Advent Wreath), and we take a break from the penance of Advent while at the same time recommitting ourselves to prepare ourselves spiritually for the birthday of Jesus.
We know that Jesus was born on that first Christmas, and that He will not be reborn of December 25th. We prepare ourselves for His birthday by using the season of Advent to focus on the second coming of Jesus. While it is true that Jesus will come again at the end of the world, we need to look at His particular coming at the time of our death. In the Liturgy of the Word during Advent, God warns us that the second coming of Jesus, the moment of death, will come at a time we least expect. Therefore, we should be living our lives in constant readiness for that day. If we can live each day with Him, then we will indeed be ready for Him when He comes for us in death.
One would think that after all the Advents of years past; he/she would be so well prepared so that it would make no difference when the moment of death would come. I must admit that after 74 Advents, I cannot say that I am truly ready for the second coming of the Lord in my life. Hopefully you have made better use of the Advents in your life. If you can answer “yes” to the question “Are you ready to meet Jesus if He came for you at this very moment?” then you have prepared yourself well. If the answer if “no”, then, like myself, you need to do some deep meditation of what we can do differently so as to allow the light of Christ to shine through us.
On this Third Sunday of Advent, the Church intensifies our attention to our preparation by reminding us that Jesus came into the world to make it possible for us to enjoy eternal life with Him in Heaven. His birth was truly a remarkable act of love. The Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, took on our human nature in all its weaknesses so He could become one with us and thus make us children of God, and teach us a way of life that would guarantee us a place with Him in Heaven.
During the Christmas Season, we will have the opportunity to reflect on the historical events surrounding the birth of Jesus. We will travel with Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem for the birth of the Messiah. We will join with the shepherds and the Magi in giving both praise and homage to the newborn king. We will accompany the Holy Family on their journey to Nazareth where Jesus grew up. We will see that He is very much both divine (God) and human, and that He struggled as He grew in age, wisdom, and grace in His human body. We will end the Christmas Season when Jesus, as a man, is baptized in the Jordan River and His Father proclaimed Him as His beloved Son. We are to listen to Him.
Yes, the birth of Jesus begins his journey that will take Him to the Cross and end with His Resurrection from the dead. What an act of humility for the Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, to take on our human nature to also make us children of God. What an act of love!
This week, I urge you to spend time meditating of the significance of the birth of Jesus in your own personal life. There are only eight days left in Advent. Be careful not to get lost in the material preparations for Christmas and forget about your spiritual preparation.
As we enter this last week of Advent, maybe we can focus on what it really means to be a child of God, a brother or sister of Jesus. Spend some time meditating of what the Sacrament of Baptism really does to and for us – how it makes us one in the Body of Christ. Do we really treat each other as our brothers and sisters? Are we truly reaching out to those who are in need of our love? Do we see Christ in the other? Are we more concerned about ourselves. Do we pay too much attention to our own wants and “needs?” Do we just pray for the poor, or do we put our faith into action as Pope Francis challenges us to do? How have you shared with others what God has given to you? You do know, don’t you, that we are called to receive the love that Jesus has for us and then in turn to give it away. That is what Jesus did after all.
If we really want to celebrate the Birth of Jesus with great joy, then we will make Him present in our world by the way we live our lives. Christ has to be at the center. We must take His Word to heart. We must become one with Him in the Eucharist, and then in turn make Him present in this world. After all, we are the hands and feet of Jesus; we speak His words; and we make His love come alive. Am I right?
Don’t be satisfied with giving a gift to a loved one. Give a gift to one in need. Don’t be satisfied just by praying for the poor. Reach out and physically touch the poor. Don’t be satisfied with filling your belly with Christmas goodies. Provide food for the hungry. In other words, use what God has blessed you with to take care of the needs of you and your family, and then to share with those who do have anyone to care for them. Be Christ to them!
This is our challenge. This is our calling. This is the way we make ourselves ready for the second coming of Christ into our lives. It is a way of life. It is our way of life. It is Christ’s way of life.
I love you.