May the hope of Christ’s light fill your hearts and minds!
The readings and the Advent season focus on the coming of Christ into the world. Our ancestors awaited a Messiah with great longing and hope. They looked for the coming of a Messiah who would free them from the forces of oppression, corruption, fear, injustice, poverty, hunger and hardship. For them, he would be a great, wise and just ruler who would establish peace. Their hope was based upon promises of the past, the stresses of the present and an enduring faith that in the future God, seeing the longing of their hearts, would fulfill the promises that had been made. We have the same hopes today! But what did they do in the meantime? They lived just like we do now –with a day-to-day routine but they watched for God’s activity and signs of his arrival!
Today, it seems like our lives are busy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Constant activity with irregular hours can cause problems of fatigue, anxiety, depression, insomnia and stress. Even those who have regular schedules frequently get over-extended with activities. Where are such people going to find a space of peace and rest to be refreshed from weariness so they can seek and find God?
For many, Advent is the busiest time of the year. There is always something to plan, cards to send, gifts to buy, parties to attend, visiting family, friends and neighbors. For some, it is the most painful time of year due to loss of loved ones, broken relationships, empty promises, and disappointments. Where do they find a remedy?
In Advent, the Church invites all of us to make a personal interior shift so that we can experience the coming of Christ and his peace that we all long for. I know that the activities of the season are important, in fact, even lifesaving because we do experience Christ’s love through each other. But it’s also easy to get off track and forget what is most important. We need to feel freedom from shame, guilt, fear, doubt, sadness, loneliness and longing or any other burdens we may have. Turning to God with our hearts is the key! The parish Reconciliation Service provides deliverance from burdens! Jesus comes to free us; not to judge or condemn us! Try to set aside some personal time with Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Invite them into your home with a prayer and candles. Spend time with them in prayer each day and make them feel appreciated and honored as your guests. If you take the time to truly watch, you will see that God is present and actively coming into your life! God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter