There are countless references to preparation throughout Scripture: “A voice cries out: ‘prepare the way of the Lord… Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed’” (Isa 40:3-5). Indeed, much of our Christian life is spent in preparation. As disciples of Christ, we are called to remain ready and alert for His return. We educate our souls, through Scripture study and faith formation, to prepare our minds and spirits for the Lord’s entrance into our lives. Predestined arrival demands preparation, and as we wait – throughout the day, week, ecclesiastical year, and our lives – for Christ’s arrival, we further conform ourselves to His image.
Advent, which begins this year on Nov. 28, is a time of joyful anticipation before the Lord’s coming, and it capitalizes on this notion of preparation. The four Sundays before Christmas signify the penance and prayerful reflection needed to adequately prepare our hearts for Christ’s arrival. Advent, in and of itself, proclaims the royalty and majesty of Christ. Much like John the Baptist’s joyful exclamation, “One mightier than I is coming. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire,” Advent promises the arrival of divinity. As stewards of our Catholic faith, we must reflect upon the reality of Christ’s coming during Advent. In the words of Christ Himself, “I came so that they might have life, and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10). A wonderful promise, but the redemptive nature of Christ’s words disguises the sacrificial theme embedded in our Lord’s message. Throughout Advent, we must search our hearts, laying all evil and worldly indulgences upon the Cross. We can then offer Christ our purified souls, as we patiently wait to welcome Him into the world.
Although we officially celebrate Advent only once a year, our entire lives should function in a preparatory state. We should expect, at any moment, for Christ to take us up with Him to heaven, so that we may sit beneath the Father’s feet in eternal paradise. As a stewardship parish, we have professed ourselves disciples of Jesus Christ – through gifts of time, talent and treasure, we can prepare ourselves for Christ’s return. We give of our hearts this Advent through alms of prayer. Thus, we spend our time with Christ in conversation and contemplation. Our talents, gifts in and of themselves, glorify God when used to build His kingdom. Our treasure, made possible by the talents God paired us with during creation, reflects the love and admiration we possess for our Heavenly Father. Consider our entire earthly lives as Advent periods of preparation. As we await Christ’s return, especially during the upcoming Christmas season, consider how our parish family can, together, prepare a holy welcome for our Lord and Savior.