Monday, December 3, 2012

The Season of Advent: What Are You Waiting for?

"How counter cultural is our faith! When the world encourages us to use the 'holiday season' to be excessive in consuming/spending/drinking/eating, the Church says 'take this time for every heart to prepare Him room.'"
This morning I watched the following video on YouTube:

"What is Advent? Christmas trees? Shopping? Rushing? Parties? 2013 New Year?

"Advent is a time to stop. A time to wait. But what are we waiting for? Santa Claus? Family gatherings? Christmas Mass? Shopping sales? Gifts? New Years parties? Holidays?

"We are waiting for a child born into poverty. We are waiting for a child who will save the world. Just as Mary waited for Jesus to arrive into the world, we must also await his arrival. Is your heart ready?

"What is Advent? A time to re-live the Christmas story. A time to welcome Jesus into your heart. A time to change."
On this second day of the 2012 Advent season, I would like to suggest that the Church take its response to the secular "holiday season" even further than this.

For example, because language is so powerful and so vulnerable to being misunderstood, misleading, and misused, I think the following sentence should be reconsidered:
"Just as Mary waited for Jesus to arrive into the world, we must also await his arrival."
The mistake in this sentence is that Jesus was already in the world before his birth. He had been in the world since his conception, since his mother's "Yes!" to the Annunciation of the angel. It was at that moment, not on the day of Jesus' birth, that "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). The Catholic Church (too quietly) acknowledges this event on March 25th.

In a world that is more callous than ever toward prenatal life, the Church needs to call attention, loudly and clearly, to this distinction. Instead of saying, "we must also await his arrival," we should be speaking of him and experiencing him as already here, already growing within us.

His birth, then, would, or should, take on the same meaning as the birth of any other child. A prenatal child grows under his mother's heart. Her body nurtures him; she feels his growth and movements. When he is born, then she can hand him to others to hold. Then she can share him.

Advent, then, is about being pregnant with Jesus, about already carrying Him under our hearts and nurturing his growth within us. And Christmas is about sharing him with each other.