Preparing for the Lord starts with Being Joyful.
We have nine days left until Christmas, correct? Who tells us that? Stores, advertisers: we have nine shopping days left until the stores close. We have nine days to get to the right stuff and get our shopping lists finished. This may not include getting our homes ready for family and friends or shopping for everything we need for Christmas parties and Christmas dinner. There’s not a lot of joy in all of this, is there? By about next Sunday, December 23rd, many of us may be saying things like, if I have to go to one more store; if I have to find one more parking space a mile away from the store, I’m going to bust!
In our preparation for the celebration of the Christ Child’s birth, we have a little less than two weeks. Less than two weeks of Advent. Advent can be a tough season for some of us; it can be hard to figure out and sometimes we don’t. Advent has traditionally not been the easiest season for me because a lot of times, I’m really not sure what to do. I like the environment which slowly changes to bring us closer to the manger scene and to the reality of Christmas: God loves us so much, so intimately, each one of us, he sent his only son to save us from our sins.
A lot of the time, I’m still asking, what am I supposed to do? Just like the soldiers and tax collectors asked John the Baptist, ‘what should we do?’ John told them in no uncertain terms what to do because he knew what these people did every day. He told them to stop cheating people, to treat people right. If you have two coats and they have nothing, then you give them one of your coats. If you have food and they have none, then give them some. Don’t bully and abuse people.
The First and Second Readings call us to take one step further and I think this is really the hard part: Zephaniah the prophet tells us to sing out with joy. Sometimes it’s hard to be joyful. St. Paul tells us to rejoice always; the Lord is near.
So here’s the thing: if we can start treating people in the stores trying to get in front of us in line or on the road or even in our parking lot right here at St. Angela Merici, with kindness and with a smile on our faces, we will become joyful and we will be rejoicing. The Lord is inside us waiting to help us treat people with love and kindness. It isn’t ourselves who are ready to “bust” if someone in a store gives us a dirtier look, it is Christ Jesus who’s ready to bust out of us with pride and love when we treat someone with care, with dignity and respect.
Jesus calls us to use the next nine days to figure this out; to figure out how to be joyful and to rejoice because our Lord is near and he is so excited to see us!
May you have a profound experience during this precious time left to us before the birth of Christ our Savior!