“Prepare ye the way of the Lord!” (Isaiah 40:3).
Each year, we begin Advent on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and begin to prepare for the Lord’s birth on Christmas. Preparations often include advent wreaths, nativity scenes, advent trees and prayer.
Did you know Advent is about much more than just Christmas? The word advent comes from the Latin word advenio, which means “to come to”. The Church teaches that Jesus to comes to us in three ways.
Jesus comes to us in His birth. Consider a couple expecting their first child. They do more than decorate the house as a reminder a child is coming. They prepare a room. They buy blankets and clothes to make the child comfortable. They clear out junk and put away breakables to make the home safe. “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). Advent is more than a time to remember our Lord’s birth. We change our words and deeds to make the child Jesus comfortable. We put away our breakable feelings. We make a room for Jesus. When Jesus comes, will we have room at the Inn of our heart? Or will our heart already be full and we turn Him away?
Jesus comes to us daily in our hearts, and in Holy Communion. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him.” (Revelation 3:20). Consider how we prepare for a special guest to visit and eat with us. We put clutter away. We clean and sweep our house. We prepare food that our guest will enjoy. We are ready to welcome them when they knock. Advent is a time to look for clutter in our life, and to clean our heart so we are not too embarrassed to let Jesus in. We make special preparations for receiving Jesus in the Eucharist by the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When Jesus knocks, will we be ready to welcome Him in? Or will our house be cluttered and unready for Him?
Jesus will come to us one last time ”on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64). The Church teaches that Advent is also a time to prepare for the second coming of Jesus. “By sharing in the long preparation for the Savior's first coming, the faithful renew their desire for His second coming.” (Catholic Catechism, paragraph 524). On the last day, Jesus will come to take us to our new Heavenly home. Consider how we prepare to move from one home to another by completely emptying the old home. On the last day, nothing is left…no possessions, no valuables, no decorations. We prepare for Jesus to take us to our Heavenly home by emptying our life of worldly possessions and pleasing decorations. “We do not know the day or hour of His coming” (Matthew 25:13). If Jesus appeared in the clouds tomorrow, would we be ready to leave our home on earth? Or do we still have posessions holding us back from leaving our old home?
As we consider ways to celebrate Advent, let’s remember the words of St. John the Baptist, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30). This Advent, let’s look for ways to make less of ourself so Jesus can increase in us. Advent begins the Church’s new year. It is a good time to make spiritual New Year’s resolutions of repentance, fasting, prayer, and charitable works. Let’s be ready for all three ways Jesus comes to us.
“Behold, I am coming soon.” (Revelations 22:13).
Amen! Come Lord Jesus!