From: Mary Zimmerman
Itís Advent, Come, Oh Come Emmanuel. Once again we start todayís Mass singing the above song. Father Jim in todayís sermon made sure to let us know itís a long Advent this year. A full four weeks, since Christmas falls on a Sunday. Advent is a prelude of time before a special event - in this case Christmas...Christ...Mass.
Now let us decide quickly how we are going to use this special time set aside to usher in the most important event in the history of mankind. Letís allow it to take on more meaning than Black Friday, decorating and all the worldly tinsel.
We hear more about penance during Lent but actually itís to our benefit (body and soul) to integrate some mortification into our daily lives, including Advent. I decided this Advent Iíd eat fewer sweets during the week and none on Friday. Well Iíd made a peanut butter pie on Wednesday with one piece left to stare me in the face on Friday. I wanted it so bad with my morning coffee (sometimes morning for me is very early). Now those of you who have had peanut butter pie know very well what I was up against. (Many people purchased this kind of pie when I was making pies.) With Godís intervention (help) I gave my son Don the pie for his lunch. I settled for a sunflower seed cookie. Oh well, Iíll try again next week.
God made man, Adam and Eve, who soon fell out of grace like the rest of us. God said, ďBecause man sinned the gates of heaven have been closed. This isnít the way I planned it. I created the heavens gorgeously for mankind to enjoy their eternal home. I want everyone to be here if they so desire.Ē So God the Father said, ďSon, will you go on a mission? Go down to earth for a short time, then give your life as ransom for mankind as an act of penance and reparation. You will suffer and die a shameful death upon a wooden cross.Ē The three persons of the Blessed Trinity were in union with each other so the answer was yes. There are many ways Jesus could have come. He chose to come as a little baby. He chose the Blessed Virgin Mary as His mother. Let us keep in mind she is our heavenly mother too and wants to continue to help us attain salvation.
This baby we mentioned was born in a manger. There is such a lesson in humility in all this - donít miss it. Thus Jesus was born. He came to save us. Isnít this an event to celebrate? We prepare ourselves spiritually (hopefully through love, prayer, penance, reconciliation, etc.) for this special event we call Christmas, during Advent - a time of preparation. Unfortunately the materialistic part has so greatly overshadowed its real meaning, the world is trying to steal the Baby Jesus from us.
Yes, gifts are nice. The Magi (three Wise Men) brought Jesus some as well, but let us not forget whose birthday it is and the gift we are preparing for Him. God really desires our hearts prepared ever so carefully with love and forgiveness, then pour these virtues into the lives of others. People are starving, not only for physical food, but spiritual food as well, and love. Menís hearts are restless until they find Jesus. Those of us with faith need to encourage others to desire to find it. We must be apostles of Christ to share the good news.
Parents you have an awesome responsibility to share the Christmas story with your children that they not only desire gifts but are able to feel the joy to giving them as well. Help them prepare their little hearts for Jesus. They will learn from your example as you teach them to pray at home and at church.
In our present uncertain troubled world let us take our burdens to the Lord in prayer. Let us not allow ourselves to be rocked to sleep by the world but let us march ahead diligently to conquer the allurements of the world (traps of Satan), and bring peace to the world.
As John the Baptist heralded the coming birth of Jesus, the Messiah, over 2,000 years ago, it is our duty in 2011 to shout again and again, Come, Come, Emmanuel. Come as we prepare spiritually doing good for others. Remember Jesusí words, ďWhatever you do for the least of my brethren you do unto me.Ē Let us all try very hard to prepare in that way. There are so many opportunities. Then come Christmas you will rejoice that indeed the Savior has been born anew in our hearts. Come, Oh Come Emmanuel - means God with us.
Have a blessed merry Christmas to each and everyone. I love you all.
See more A MATTER OF FAITH on page 6AA