By Deacon Jim Russell[The post below can also be found in the December issue of the Office of Laity and Family Life's e-newsletter, "Disciples' Dispatch." If you'd like to receive the newsletter via e-mail, just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks and have a Blessed Advent! JR]
Another year is concluding, and another precious few weeks to prepare our hearts for celebrating the birth of the Infant Jesus! That kind of preparation hardly seems doable in the midst of the commercialism, distractions, and numerous obligations we face during what secular society can only go so far as to call the “Holiday Season.”
Yet, even that minimal acknowledgment that a “Holiday” (as in Holy Day) is involved in all this really does point us in the right direction: While the Christmas carol affirms that “Tis the season to be jolly,” the more fundamental Advent call is “Tis the season to be holy”! The true joy of being “jolly” arises not from outside us, but from within us. And that joy doesn’t happen within us unless we’ve prepared for it by seeking holiness.
Advent as a time of waiting, expectation, and preparation reveals to us that the One for Whom we wait—Jesus Christ—is also not merely born 2000 years ago in a Bethlehem stable, but also ought to be “born again”—here in 2014—within us, in our very hearts and souls. We are to make room in our very soul for our newborn Infant King.
Most of the time, this kind of preparation involves a serious spiritual house-cleaning. We have to clear out the interior debris field that fills our souls and form a humble and not ostentatious space—our own personal manger as throne—for the One Whose very life, love, and mercy is the font of all holiness.
How? Well, why not lean on that life, love, and mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation? We can’t give what we don’t already have, so if we want to give some great and selfless gifts in the coming Christmas Season, we first have to actually “possess” our best self—we have to “have” our best selves to give to others. And once we find the humility to get over ourselves, so to speak, He makes it so easy for us to approach Him in the Sacraments and find that inner strength and sanctity that only He can restore in us—all so that we can imitate Him and give our best selves away for the sake of others.
So, have a blessed—literally—Season of Advent. “Tis the season to be holy!”