What is Christmas about? Let us be clear! Christmas is about encountering Christ. Simply put, the faith will die in our hearts if we do not encounter Christ. As well as that, it will not be passed on to the next generation. This second Sunday of Advent is about getting ready.
John the Baptist calls us to make the path straight. The first thing we are called to do, therefore, is to make an act of faith. It could be a simple act, like that of the centurion in the Gospels saying: “I believe Lord, help my unbelief”. What is it that we believe? We believe that Jesus Christ is alive and that He is fully God and fully Man. In faith, we look with our mind’s eye, and we say “I believe, and I trust in you, God”. Come to Him in prayer and put all your trust in Him. That is the first step of faith. In doing this, we, therefore, have a real relationship with Christ.
The second thing to do to “make the path straight” is to put this faith into action. I recommend three ways to do this. First, deepen your understanding of the mystery by reading or listening to talks. There are many good programs on Formed.org, which you can access from our parish website. Second, remember that fasting is a traditional way for Catholics to prepare for Christmas and so is Confession. The third thing is to visit a retirement home with your family or else help out with St Vincent de Paul. By doing such things, Christmas becomes first about other people, and first of all about the Coming of Christ in our lives.
The third thing is to remember that gifts are a fruit of our love of God. Plan out your Christmas so that any gift that you give is a sign of your love of God. Remember that the idea of giving presents at Christmas comes from the three wise men. They travelled from far away, reading the signs in the stars to encounter Christ. To do that, they had to have believed, they had to make their path straight, and when they arrived at His feet, they gave Christ great gifts. This means that we should change the way we give gifts at Christmas. Each and every gift should be a fruit of the thanks we carry in our hearts for all that God has done for us.
The Gospel today says: “Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown in the fire.” In an increasingly secular world, these words become even more critical. Each and every Catholic must return to the roots of Christmas. If you are wounded, hurt or feel unworthy, Christ, this Christmas, will be waiting for you with open arms. He comes to wipe away all tears from our eyes.
Fr Michael Thérèse