John the Baptist does all he can to make sure the people of his time recognize the Messiah when he comes. For us people of the 21st century, we know that the Messiah has come, but he is still coming. Even when Christmas Day dawns, the Christ will still be coming. It is always Advent, and we are always waiting for God who is always coming into our lives. Eternity still awaits us, and so we walk on pilgrimage. The Baptist didn’t live at home; he lived in the wilderness. We, too, are not in our true home. We live in the wilderness. But we are not alone. We live in the here-and-now and the not-yet. God is with us every step of the journey to eternity. Our cry in the wilderness must be “Make straight the way of the Lord!” What we do today and throughout the rest of Advent—and Advent is our whole lives—will let people know God when he comes. We will know him when we recognize God today in family, friends, and neighbors. See the face of Christ in stores and in zoom gatherings. See the Suffering Christ in those who cannot be with families, in the sick, in over-taxed medical professionals. See the Radiant Christ in the joyful face of a child and the patient face of an elder. Even amid a pandemic wilderness, we can rejoice that God is here!
The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe falls on a Saturday this year, making it easier to celebrate with music, color, dance, and festive foods. The story of Juan Diego and Mary’s appearance to him is very dear to many in the Americas. Just leave it to Our Lady to appear to the poorest of the poor—as she so typically does. Just leave it to Mary to give an undeniable sign—roses in winter and her own indelible image! Just leave it to Mary to proclaim God “who lifts up the lowly” in her Magnificat. She’s always there for us. She always does it right. She knows how to kiss the hurt. After all, she’s our Mama.
Advent rolls past, present, and future into one. The Advent Mass readings are like the Church’s scrapbook as we see prophets like Isaiah, kings, Elizabeth, Zachary, John the Baptist—people of the past looking to the future Messiah. The Second Coming is always before our eyes, as we are reminded that we “do not know on what day your Lord is coming” (Mt. 24:42). And we live in the present, aware that Christ comes in mystery through every moment of our lives. Think back over the past few days to discover how often God has come to you in his Word, in the Eucharist, in the advice of a friend, in the lyrics of a song, in the smile of an elder, in the hug of a child. In every moment of every day God surrounds us with grace.
Post of December 9th: Today’s Gospel starts out with a cozy feeling. Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” What sounds like a warm flannel blanket turns quickly into a wooden yoke that chafes. But even wearing a yoke, Jesus informs us, “you will find rest for yourselves.” But then I think that a yoke ties me to another taking away my freedom. True, the companion in my yoke is Christ, who promised an easy, light burden. But still I may feel a bit resentful about losing my independence. The passage seems like an extended oxymoron. Easy load. Light burden. Rest when hitched to a plow. And we can set this little passage into the whole Gospel, which could be considered an extended oxymoron. The last shall be first. The first shall be last. To save your life, lose it. We die to live.
With Christmas approaching we may watch our weight to enjoy the season’s goodies. While Advent may be a time to watch our weight, it’s a time to wait in watch, to watch for the many comings of the Lord. Advent, like an alarm clock, awakens us to all the good things we can do in this season. Are we awake? Be like the watchman who waits for the dawn. Be on the lookout for opportunities to share your faith, give your service, or have a few extra minutes to pray. In these ways and many others ways we can find the coming of the Lord throughout the day. Watch for God’s coming in your family, coworkers, Scripture, songs, newscasts, the excitement of children, and more.
Post of December 8th: Our readers may recall that the Sisters of Notre Dame in the United States became one province in July. Formerly our four provinces had their own particular feast and patron. When suggestions poured in for a new name for our united province, the results were quite conclusive. As the Sisters of Notre Dame in the United States, we chose the patroness of our country—Mary, under her title Immaculate Conception. Today is the first time we celebrate as one. With Mary we say, “May it be done to [us] according to your word.”
Post from December 7th: The days of Advent scintillate with one luminous message: God Himself will come to save us! Today’s First Reading paints a vivid picture in which all nature rejoices at the coming of the Lord. The desert blooms with abundant flowers, streams burst forth into pools for animals to drink. The highway is readied for the Messiah, and all along this holy way people rejoice and sing.
Today turn someone’s desert into a garden, transform someone’s lameness to leaping, be a friend to bring others to Our Lord. God Himself will come, but it’s nice to know that God permits us to prepare the way.
We are sorry that these posts have been missing for a few days! The tech issue is now solved so you can check in each day for two or three posts until we catch up. BLESSINGS on your Advent Days and Christmas Preparation!
From the Bloggers!
Post from December 6th: The story of Saint Nicholas, known long before the time of Charles Dickens, was propagated through Dicken’s novel The Christmas Carol. Its vivid description of Saint Nicholas and Christmas festivities changed the way England celebrated the feast. His novel led to much more decoration, gift giving, and special food by the Londoners.
Because Dickens wanted his grandchildren to understand the Gospel, he incorporated the major themes of the Gospel in his novel. Dicken’s Christological view runs across every page. A Christmas Carol is a story of conversion. All humans are portrayed as good with everyone having potential for redemption even Scrooge. A close reading of the original novel shows the author’s emphasis on “caritas,” charity. There are no class systems at Christmas, Marley is a prophet, there are references to the star of Bethlehem and magi, and Tiny Tim is vicar for Christ. Writing about this novel, G. K. Chesterton said he was glad Scrooge was converted to the punchbowl instead of away from it. Thank you, Charles Dickens, for creating such a joyous feast imitating the angels who first brought news of great joy.
Jesus was a very busy man. He would have been hired as an efficiency expert today. But no matter how much he taught, walked from town to town, cured and fed the multitudes, he felt he needed help. He laments that “the laborers are few.” He then sends out his disciples with his own authority and asks us to pray for more disciples. We can be a disciple and in our own way cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. . . . You only need a heart full of grace.” How will I serve today? How will I do my part?