Dear brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus,
As we begin the holy season of Advent and, at the same time, a new year of grace and favor from God in the Church, I urge you to make the Advent time one that reflects both your personal conversion to Christ and His life, and your communal commitment to His Church’s life of prayer, good works and sacrifice.
In this way each of us will hear and put into practice the clarion call of Advent to prepare the way for the Lord. This also has a personal and a communal dimension. The personal aspect of our preparation is our own faith life. How have we kept ourselves in communion with Him? Ask yourselves: do I pray daily, do I do any real charity (giving without expecting a response or recognition), do I ever make sacrifices for the sake of others (deny myself something I need)? The communal aspect of our preparation is our Faith confessed by the way we live it in daily life. How have we expressed to others our joy of knowing Christ as our true Friend?
When we make a real effort to better ourselves spiritually, morally and sacramentally in the Advent season, what we find is that Advent effortlessly becomes Christmas for us personally and for us as members of the Church. Why is this so? Simply put, Advent is the holy season of our true Hope Who is Jesus.
As Jesus is our true Hope, so is He the Truth. It is this: He has become a man like us in all things but sin in order to save us from what we did to ourselves. Advent reminds us of what He has already achieved for us, but it also tells us that there is something not yet accomplished which is also for us. That is the promised return of the Lord Jesus at the end of time to judge the living and the dead of all times and places.
The Christmas season reminds us of the depth of the love of God for us in that He sends us His beloved Son as the priceless gift of eternal life if we receive Him with hearts and minds obedient and humble. The beauty of Christmas is that it immediately points us to Easter and offers us the choice of our lives. Thus, every conscience must choose to follow Him or the evil one, Truth or falsehood. Choosing Jesus does not guarantee worldly success but it assures us the peace and joy He alone gives us.
Have a most Blessed Advent, Christmas and New Year!