Reflections from the readings for the First Sunday of Advent, found at http://usccb.org/bible/readings/113014.cfm
Today is the first Sunday of Advent. It is the first day of the new church year. Advent is meant to be a time of patient, reflective waiting for the coming of the Messiah. How much time, though, do we really make for reflective waiting during this busy time of the year. We worry about getting the right Christmas tree for our homes, getting the Christmas cards ready to be mailed to those on our Christmas card list. We need to go shopping for all those on our Christmas gift list! Christmas shopping, wrapping presents! There's the Christmas pageant that many attend in their local churches! There's the Christmas (or should I say "holiday") party at work and other holiday parties we're invited to. There's also getting the house ready and cleaned for the Christmas guests we're expecting! All this work & activity to be done before Christmas! Who has time to be reflective in perpetration for the coming of Messiah into our lives at Christmas?
In the gospel for today we hear Jesus tell us to "Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come." (Mark 13:33) Traditionally this was interpreted as meaning we should not let death catch us unprepared. True death is always a possibility. But the Advent terrain is broader than that.
As important as all those things that keep us busy at this time of year, we should not let Christmas catch us unprepared. During all the busyness of this time of year we need to also prepare ourselves to be spiritually ready for the coming of Jesus into our lives. Don't let Advent slip by without getting closer to Jesus and making Him the real reason why we Celebrate Christmas.
Take those opportunities during Advent that can help you get closer to Him! These opportunities may not come again. For instance, when sending Christmas Cards, write a personal note in a Christmas Card to someone who's had a rough year. If your church has a Giving Tree (or Jesse Tree), be extra generous. Be warm and kind to those sales clerks at the stores you frequent. They work hard this time of year and may need your kind words and appreciation.
If you're able to, maybe one day during the month, look for a way to volunteer to serve those in most need in your community. It could be at a food pantry or soup kitchen.
Finally, try to set aside some quiet time during each day to read the scripture readings the church has selected for daily Mass, leading up to Christmas. This allows you to grow closer to God by finding Him in Scripture.
Remember to be grateful for all the times the Lord has come to us!
If you do all this, you will find the true peace that can only come from knowing Jesus as your Saviour!
Praise be Jesus Christ: now and forever.
Deacon Tom Tortorella is a guest blogger on FatherRosado.com. He is a permanent Deacon for the Archdiocese of New York and is currently assigned to St. Clare of Assisi Church in the Bronx, NY. He was ordained by His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan on June 19th, 2010.
The image of the Advent Wreath is courtesy of Jonathunder (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons