From Fr. Paul 12-3-2017

All around us Christmas appears to be already in full swing. Christmas music has been playing on some stations for weeks now, lights and decorations are up, stores are crowded, and holiday parties are starting at our work places. But . . . it is not Christmas yet. This week the Church begins to offer us something we really need at this time: a place of rest from the busyness, an invitation for quiet reflection, and the opportunity to prepare for a Sacred Gift.

These four Sundays of Advent are a series of reminders that recalibrate our lives to be centered on the Lord. It is a challenge, especially at this time of year. This first week we focus particularly on preparation. But it is not the kind of preparation that makes us feel overwhelmed or exhausted. Buying gifts, preparing meals, decorating the house are all good things, they are ways we show our love for others. But if we don’t invite Jesus into those tasks, we will be preparing for something else, not the birthday of Jesus.

A very practical way to begin this Advent is to invite the Lord into the reality of our busy lives and ask some questions: Lord, how do I need to prepare for Christmas? and Lord, what do You want me to get done? Be open to what God has to say to you.

At this time of year, I think of the Scripture passage of Martha and Mary. Martha is busy with hospitality, preparing food and serving guests, and her sister Mary is just sitting at the feet of Jesus. Martha is annoyed that she is doing all the work, and asks Jesus to tell Mary to help. Jesus instead tells Martha that she is anxious about many things, and reminds her that Mary has chosen the better part. This Scripture can serve as an invitation to spend time with Jesus in prayer, in a quiet place in our house, some time to read Scripture from Isaiah or the Gospel of Luke, stop into church or an adoration chapel, or go for a walk with a rosary. The only necessary way to celebrate Christmas is with Christmas Mass after all. All the decorations and gifts are extras – good but not essential. Let us find time to choose the better part. May the Holy Spirit lead you into the peace of this Advent season and prepare a fitting place in your heart for the Savior.

Fr. Paul