advent or else
"None of those who cry out, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of God but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven." —Matthew 7:21
In our Western culture, Christmas has been commercialized and thereby trivialized. For example, when we think of Christmas, we have been programmed to think of cartoon characters such as Santa Claus, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, and Frosty the snowman. When Christmas means nothing substantial, we find no need to prepare for it spiritually. In this environment, we have no need for Advent.
However, if we see that the true meaning of Christmas is to meet Christ at Mass, receive His salvation, see His light, and make His peace, then the spiritual preparation for Christmas would necessarily be substantial. In fact, the true meaning of Christmas is so demanding that it is humanly impossible. But the Lord will give us the grace for Christmas, if we accept an Advent of growing in faith (see Eph 2:8). This faith by which we accept the grace of Christmas must be accompanied by good works, for "faith without works is dead" (Jas 2:26). Works are good not because we think they're good but because they are done in obedience to God's will (see Mt 7:24ff). Thus, we need an Advent of constant obedience to be prepared for Christmas.
This year's Christmas probably requires more faith and works than we have now. Only by growing in our relationship with the Lord will we have an authentic Christmas. This Advent, grow.
Prayer: Father, may I learn obedience even if I have to suffer (Heb 5:8).
Promise: "Trust in the Lord forever! For the Lord is an eternal Rock." —Is 26:4
Praise: St. John helped others to grow in the depth of their faith by the many theological works and tracts about truth that he wrote.
Reference: (This Advent, read the Bible. To help you start, order our audio tapes on the Gospel of Matthew, #700, 701, 702, and 703.)
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Robert A. Stricker, June 23, 2003
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 2003