Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Advent is a time of waiting and anticipation, a time of peace and reflection. However, so often the sounds of Christmas rush, holiday parties and the overwhelming size of Christmas lists overtake it in an overpowering din, a white noise so intense we lose sight of what Advent is meant to be.
Are you preparing the way for the Lord? How is that working for you?
On the First Sunday of Advent in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus reminds his disciples that in the time of Noah, the people were having a great time and not preparing for the flood nor heeding the words of Noah until it was too late and they were washed away. Then he says it will be the same for the coming of the Son of Man, he will come like the thief in the night when all will be unaware, unprepared and not awake.
The holiday season has a way of lulling us into a spiritual slumber leaving many in the darkness of despair, even for the most faithful. We find ourselves floating in the ways of world chasing the biggest, the brightest, the best and… Instead, it should be a time of preparing for God to call upon us and be in our presence, if we allow him. Stay awake!
On the Second Sunday of Advent in the continuation of the Matthew’s Gospel we heard John the Baptist saying, “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He was the voice crying out in the desert telling us to make way for the Lord, described by the prophet of Isaiah.
If we were not awake, this should have a least caused us to stir from our slumber and to begin shedding the accumulation of baggage we may have collected since the season of Lent. A time of waiting and a time of preparation making straight the Lords path to our hearts. Clearing the clutter which stands between us and God.
On the Third Sunday of Advent, in Mathews Gospel we find John the Baptist in prison and questioning if he was right about Jesus being the Christ. However, Jesus sends the message the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cured, the deaf can hear, the dead have been raised and good news has been proclaimed to poor.
Perhaps, there are times when we feel like John Baptist, have we done the right thing, have we completely placed our trust in Jesus? Have we done enough to make straight the path? Wondering, is God listening to us? Why can’t we feel his presence and hear is voice? St. James gives us words of wisdom in the second reading of the Third Sunday of Advent, “Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand.” –James 5:7–10.
With less than two weeks before Christmas there is still time to prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord. Yes, the Christmas rush will speed up, the Holiday parties will continue and the lists will grow. However, God’s gift to the world will always give us hope, the gift of Jesus to us. A gift we should desire as much as the Psalmist expresses;
O God, you are my God, for you I long;
for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you
like a dry, weary land without water. (Ps 63:1-2)
Just as it was with Elijah, it’s difficult for us to hear the Lord in the chaos and storms of life. So, be patient, be still, be quiet, listen and be not afraid! Out the quiet, through the hush of a winters snow, listen for the cry of the baby Jesus, dressed in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger bringing Peace on Earth and Joy to the world.
Have a fruitful Advent journey and very Merry Christmas.
Yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Joseph A. Pepe, D.D., J.C.D.