Tuesday May 21, 2019
4:50 pm
Bishop Hying

Advent a time to ask how we can best get ready for the Lord to break into our lives in a new way

As published in the Northwest Indiana Catholic on December 3, 2017

 

      Because Christmas falls on a Monday this year, Advent is very short - only three weeks long.  A beautiful and opportune time to allow the Lord to move and speak within us, this preparatory season for Christmas is full of spiritual opportunities. Amidst the holiday rush, take some time to really let Advent be a deep experience of Christ.

      Every Advent, I try extra hard to be silent and still, to let God speak in the quiet. Everything at this time of year is so noisy and busy that we may end up living the paradox of getting ready for Christmas in every way except the most important - preparing a place in our hearts for the coming of Christ.

      Jesus was born in silence; he spent many a night in the quiet of prayer. The saints prayed in solitude to encounter the living God. Psychologically, we need time to be alone and in peace to feed our psychic, emotional and spiritual energies. Allow time during every day of Advent for silence and stillness.

      Joy is the mark of true Christians when we realize how near God is to us. Pleasure may satisfy our senses for a little while, like eating our favorite food or watching a funny movie. Happiness comes from having our health, steady employment, people that love us and having our basic needs met. Joy is something more - knowing to the depths of our souls that God loves us infinitely and that in Christ, we have encountered mercy, love, forgiveness, peace and the promise of salvation. 

      I need to seek joy more during Advent, knowing that only Jesus will satisfy the cravings of my heart.

      The Mass readings during Advent put an Old Testament prophecy side by side with a Gospel reading, which shows how that ancient desire or hope is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Isaiah, Zechariah and Jeremiah speak powerfully of Israel’s great hope that God will send the Messiah and save his people. 

      These ancient longings reach their unimaginable conclusion when God himself enters human history and redeems everything. The prophets hoped that God would send the Messiah; they never expected that God himself would become the Messiah. What are your deepest longings and desires? Listen to them, name them, and lift them up in prayer and meditation. How is Jesus the answer to the deepest desires of your heart and soul?

      Advent is a precious time to reach out to those in need and share the love, joy and wonder of Christ incarnate. Many people want to share the spirit of Christmas with the needy, suffering, sick and poor.  This deep movement of charity and unselfishness reveals the work of the Holy Spirit in so many people at this time of year. 

      Witnessing to the mercy of the Lord during these weeks of preparation is an infallible way of preparing the way of the Lord in the lives of other people. Who needs your goodness, warmth, attention and embrace during these cold winter days?

      John the Baptist and the Blessed Virgin Mary serve as two primary models of Advent discipleship.  John is like a wild man in the desert, preaching a message of repentance, calling people to attend to the nearness of the Messiah, challenging them to change their lives for the better. People heard his powerful voice and transformation occurred. Mary was relatively unknown, living in obscurity. She heard the voice of the angel and through her gracious assent, gave flesh to the Word. 

      We need to live the public witness of John the Baptist, testifying to the saving power of the Gospel and we need the attentive heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit within us. 

      Our faith is both public and personal; we need to live Christianity in the marketplace and pray in the inner sanctum of our room with the door closed. In both these ways, we prepare the way for the coming of Christ into our lives amidst the swirl of the Christmas season. 

      Let Advent be Advent! 

      Don’t rush Christmas so much that it seems old and tired when December 25th actually arrives.  Focus on the essential - how can we best get ready for the Lord to break into our lives in a new way?  Prepare to be surprised during these dark, cold, joyful weeks that lead us to the Light of the world.

 

       + Donald J. Hying

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