Monday, December 3, 2012

Happy New Year – An Opportunity to Prepare

Happy New Year??  What are you talking about Jeremy?

This last Sunday was the start of Advent – the start of a new Liturgical Year in the Church. Advent comes from the Latin word, adventus, which means “coming.” In the Catholic Church, as well as many other Christian churches, Advent represents a season of waiting and preparation for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We look at Advent from both the historical perspective with the birth of Jesus on Christmas (First Coming) as well as in the context of the Second Coming. In either case, this is a good time to take stock in what we are doing to prepare ourselves while in waiting. No, I don’t mean making shopping lists for all the food, stringing up lights around the house, or purchasing far more gifts than our children need. What I mean is “what are we doing to prepare ourselves spiritually for the coming of Christ?”

I am not one of those people that “preaches” about the end of the world all of the time, but I do believe that we should prepare ourselves constantly for the Second Coming and Advent is a good reminder. The Second Coming may be today, tomorrow, fifty years from now, or after our own human life passes, but what are we doing to prepare today, right now, for eternal life? In Matthew 25:13, Jesus states, "Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.” All of us need to be prepared as only God knows. Think of it this way for a moment. What if the world ended today, and you stood to be judged and were asked the question, “why should I let you in?” How would you respond? And, would your response gain you entry into the Kingdom?

We oftentimes allow the many distractions in our day to day life get in the way of doing good works and preparing ourselves for eternal life. Let’s all be honest with ourselves, there is a lot to get done. Like it or not, we need to do the grocery shopping for Christmas dinner, buy gifts for family, decorate, coordinate that pitch-in at work, and maybe volunteer if there is time. Hit pause for a few minutes! Make a list for yourself of all the things you have to do and have planned for the holidays, and then ask yourself, “Of these, which are preparing me?” Are you making time for God in your life? Are you going to Church on Sundays? Are you taking the time out for prayer? Are you helping others around you understand the true meaning of Christmas? Are you donating your time and treasure to help others during this holiday season?

I can say that I love Christmas. For many years now, my family and I go up to my in-laws in Michigan and celebrate with extended family. It is a lot of fun and the bringing together of family on such a joyous occasion is truly special and an important part of the holidays. I’m sure many others have similar traditions, yet in all of the hustle it is easy to forget what the spirit of the season is all about – and, it’s much more than spending one hour at a church on Christmas Eve or Christmas. The season is an opportunity to prepare ourselves for the coming of our Lord. We will honor Him and the memory of the Nativity of Jesus Christ by using some of the next 22 days to pray more, help out a charitable organization, volunteer our time, adopt a needy child/family, go to Confession, read Sacred Scripture, and teach our children about the meaning of Christmas. Consider a personal pledge – something that you are going to do this Advent for your own personal preparation.

“Happy New Year” to all of you. Go make time. Slow down. Reflect and prepare. God is also watching, making his list, and checking it twice.

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