Happy New Year! Today, our first day of Advent, we begin our new year in the Church, also called the start of our Liturgical Year (when we begin a new set of readings in our liturgies/masses). We will spend the next four weeks preparing ourselves with more than shopping for presents with special readings, more prayer, and acts of charity.
We take this time before Christmas to make an effort not to get lost in the secular world’s hijacking of one of our holiest days. No amount of shopping can prepare us for what is about to happen in our world. We must not get fooled by the half-truths our commercialized world is putting out, especially that this is the season of “magic” or this season belongs to the children.
I love hallmark Christmas movies like many people, but they continually push the false notion of the “magic” of Christmas. They say everything will be all right if we just believe in the “magic” of Christmas. It is true wonderful things happen this time of year, but it is not about magic because magic is an illusion and the coming of our savior on Christmas night/day was real. What we celebrate is a miracle and not magic. It is a miracle that God became human, it is a miracle that God gave us a way to reconcile with Him, it is a miracle that God moves cold hearts, our scrooges, to love not magic.
The second way we get lost this time of year is thinking this is the season for children. Yes, we do all kinds of toy drives for children this time of year, but as I learned in El Salvador, this is not the season of toys or children, it is the season of one child, Jesus and He came for everyone, adults and children. I am not saying to stop giving your children toys, but we do need to refocus what we do this time of year if we want to understand the Christmas event for the treasure that it is.
To avoid these traps during this time of year, it is necessary to ask the question “what am I going to give the Christ Child?” not “what is everyone going to give me?” Perhaps you can take a moment to ask your children or yourself, what am I going to give Jesus this yea? maybe less fighting and more forgiving, maybe doing something for our homeless, or maybe join a new parish group, a choir, or a ministry.
As a church we will prepare for coming of the Christ-child in many ways: with our Christmas fair (Dec 2-3), our Novena to Guadalupe (Dec 4-12), our communal penance service (Dec 7), our Posadas(Dec 15-23), our Christmas party (Dec 17), and for the adults in English there will be Spiritual reflections on Mary as our guide at 10:30am each Advent Sunday in the church and in Spanish we will do Scripture reflections on the Gospels at 10:45pm.
With a heart for Mission,