It seems like Christmas snuck up on me this year. I do not know if that is the case for you, but I certainly do not feel prepared to celebrate the birth of our Savior. Advent has been a hit and miss time for me. I had great plans to light the Advent wreath each night, read the prayers and spend time meditating on the coming of our Lord. Sadly, my plans did not happen as I hoped. There is still time.
The beautiful thing about Christ is that it is never too late to focus on him. It is never too late to prepare for the birth of the Messiah. We are a week away from Christmas. If you are like me and waiting for Amazon to deliver those late minute gifts, unwrapped presents hidden away in the house, and an Advent wreath with candles only lit a few times, then you still feel the pressure of Christmas. We spend our time during Advent shopping, stressing, menu planning, gift wrapping….and stressing more. That is not what the Lord intends for Advent. It is a time for preparation and not primarily the preparation of gifts and meals. It is a time of preparation for the coming King of Kings.
During his December Angelus message, Pope Francis gave a beautiful reminder, “let us remember one thing: with Jesus, there is always the possibility of beginning again. It is never too late. And let us not let this Advent go by like days on the calendar, because this is a moment of grace, a grace for us too, here and now. There is always the possibility to begin again. Be courageous. Jesus is near to us.”
It is not often that Christmas Day falls on a Sunday. As a result, we are provided seven full days to prepare our hearts for the coming Savior. These last seven days let us take things one day at a time. Let us take this final week one step at a time. Ready or not, Christmas is coming. The Lord is coming. Breathe.
Imagine what the Blessed Mother felt and thought the final days prior to the birth of Christ. As Joseph led her, protected her and the unborn child, and worked to provide for her during their journey for the census, meditate on how Mary and Joseph must have felt. They had stress as well. The stress of travel, long days, and no lodging. We know that Mary was a woman of faith and dedication to the Lord. Following the visit of the shepherds, we are told in Luke 2:19 that “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” If Mary “kept all these things” and reflected on them, we can be assured she must have been contemplating all the angel had told her during the Annunciation while they were traveling for the census. Despite all the stress they faced, she kept her eyes and her heart on Jesus. We are to follow her example.
A few simple ways to make the most out of this last week of Advent, especially if you feel you have failed the first three weeks, is to take the first 15 minutes of your day praying, spend another 15 minutes of your day reading Scripture, and talk about Jesus to your family. We spend time talking to each other about gifts we are giving our children and spouse, Christmas plays or concerts in which our children are participants, and Christmas parties. How often do we sit around the dinner table talking about Jesus? He’s coming. Let us make room for Him.