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Ready Your Hearts: Weekly Message for 12-21-2021
The season of Advent is coming to a close. For some of us, Christmas couldn’t come fast enough. We are desperate for a little joy or maybe desperate to get through this season because life is painful. Maybe some of us reading this might sigh inwardly thinking here is another Advent season I planned to go deeper in my prayer life, make a bigger effort to prepare my heart to celebrate Jesus’ birth, and I missed it. Again.
There seems to be a lot of regret in our world today, a lot of suffering, and what could appear to be an ever-increasing darkness. People may think, never have times been so challenging. But world history and even our own religious history would contest that thinking. Every age has faced darkness. Every age has faced sickness and death and every age has faced corrupt worldly powers.
The people of God waited centuries for the Advent of the Savior. They too suffered and questioned and searched for meaning in their lives. The great Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, “The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come.” I have often pondered what Mary thought about the plight of the world as she was preparing for Jesus’ birth. Why now? Why in a stable? How will the world know what mysterious thing God has done? God became man. Emmanuel. God is with us.
Christmas is all about joy, and merriness, and sweet baby Jesus, right? True, but if we really think about why Jesus came, the season takes on a more somber meaning. That sweet baby Jesus, heralded by Heavenly Hosts, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a feeding trough for animals in a cold barn, came to die so that we might live in union with God once again. Advent and Lent are bound together. God loved us so much he sent his only Son so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life ( Jn 3:16). Emmanuel. God is for us.
There is still time to open our hearts to the mystery of Christmas. Jesus would like no greater gift from us than to give him our hearts as his manger to rest in. The next time we receive the Eucharist, let us turn our gaze inward and contemplate the baby Jesus so fragile, so small, cradled in our hearts and remember, Emmanuel. God is in us.
Yours in the Heart of Jesus,