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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Getting our homes (hearts) ready


This beautiful season of Advent begins with a Gospel reading that sounds like it could have come last week, when we celebrated the kingship of Christ Jesus who will return to establish His kingdom at the end of time.  In fact, this reading was the last Gospel the church reads every year, the last Saturday of the last week of Ordinary Time, this year November 28th.  The reason this is read again during the Year C cycle of readings which we begin today, focusing on Luke's Gospel, is to highlight that in the Season of Advent we prepare ourselves for two comings at once.  In a seamless tying of the mysteries of our faith, the Church weaves together Christ's final coming into his first coming as man, the Incarnation, that we will celebrate in just under 4 weeks.
During Advent, we do lots of things to prepare for Christmas: putting up lights, getting out decorations, buying and wrapping gifts, writing cards, preparing and attending celebrations, perhaps caroling as my family would join in with other parishioners.  All of these could be very good things, but they could also become distractions if we do not spend time every day preparing for the true reason of Christmas Day, the coming of the Lord Jesus as a child-savior, as well as His coming at the end of time or the end of our time, whichever comes first.
This is no ordinary visitor.  If your family & friends are like mine, then perhaps you know this rule of thumb: the more close you are and the more comfortable people are with you, the less effort will probably go into making things special and perfect for you.  Not once have I ever gone home to find a bedroom with new paint, freshly vacuumed carpet, immaculate bedding and a mint and bottle of water on the nightstand.  Nor do I expect my family to do that for me.  I would feel weird if the red carpet came out for me or any of my siblings - maybe even angry!  But when it is someone else, someone special: we do our best to make the home nice.  If the governor, or the bishop, or a movie star, or even just a neighbor were coming over to your house, you would do what you could to make the house presentable, perhaps even going to great lengths of work to make it as nice as possible.  Well, Jesus is more important than all of those visitors.  He is God, and like Zacchaeus, he wants to come into your homes and into your lives.  So, during Advent, what are you going to do to get ready for Christmas?
I like to think of the image of manger, the creche, the nativity scene, or whatever you want to call.  Think of Mary and Joseph and what they had to do to get ready for Jesus.  What are you going to do to get your hearts ready for Him?  Mary and Joseph would have gotten all the messes out of the stable as much as possible.  Animals are not clean and that would have taken some serious effort.  We also have to clean out the mess of our sins: by placing ourselves before the Lord's Mercy in the sacrament of Confession.  I would encourage coming to Confession: whenever there is a morning Mass, you can come to confession from 7-7:30am.  Saturdays have confessions as well.  Also, as I mentioned in the bulletin, come to the Divine Mercy play titled Faustina.  I will be hearing Confessions afterwards with many other priests.  You can enjoy a beautiful drama that deeply fosters your faith, and as a bonus, go to Confession to a random priest you will never see again!  If your lucky, he may even be losing his hearing!
Mary and Joseph also would have filled the stable with what they could have: a warm fire, hay for comfort, clothes for warmth, among other things.  We ourselves prepare for Jesus' coming with the good works we offer toward others: love and kindness in the home and workplace are exactly the gifts that Jesus wants.  Acts of charity to the weak and poor are like the gifts of the wise men.  prayer is the fire of love that the Holy Spirit places within us and like Mary and Joseph, is the the most important thing we can offer Jesus is ourselves and our time and attention: we can pray regularly and look at the face of Our Lord of Love.
Don't let Advent disappear in the chaos of secular activities.  Pray and prepare for Jesus' coming at Christmas and at the end of our days.

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