In spite of what you see around you, it is not yet Christmas! This is the final week of Advent. We have but this one day in the fourth week of Advent to complete our preparation for the Coming of Jesus on Christmas. We are to prepare ourselves for Self-Giving! We are to prepare ourselves for Joy!
So, if it is not yet Christmas, why does it look like Christmas all around us? Even here, inside our very own Church! Well, that was the result of practical compromise, a compromise similar to that which many of us may have had to make during this “Holiday Season”.
Sometimes theory and practical application come into conflict. And when this happens, we have to make a decision. Do I insist on compliance to what should be? Or, do I make some accommodations, some compromises? And then in making those, am I guilty of being unfaithful? Am I faithful when it is easy and convenient, but compromise when it is hard or inconvenient?
This dilemma played itself out in decorating our Church with the limited time available to us and it played itself out with my own personal Christmas decorating at home.
Linda and I don’t put up much in the way of lights and stuff at home. We just have a Jesus, Mary, and Joseph yard display. However, Father has been fairly clear in his guidance to us that Christmas begins December 25th, not before! We have heard him tell us to begin celebrating ON Christmas and then continue celebrating through Epiphany.
But, Father, that would require that I wait and take the chance of having to put my yard display up in the ice and snow and wind. I do so dislike Nebraska winter wind, and I really did not want to do that!
Also, it means having my house dark while everyone else on my block is engaged with the season, many with religious displays. So, what do I do? Do I rigidly adhere to what I know is the “right” thing to do, or do I compromise and put out my display?
In addition to that “caving-in” to the pressures around me, I have to also confess that I attended several Christmas Parties during Advent. When I told this to Father, he frowned!
Father knows that it is best to wait, but he also knows that we must not disengage from the real world. But, while not disengaging, I think we have a responsibility to continually advocate for and work toward reform. I have it as a personal goal to each year move a little closer to where I want to be with reclaiming Christmas for Christ; and in the interim, we do the best we can, guided by faith and tempered with lots of compassion and forgiveness. Thanks be to the Lord for forgiveness!
So, we have just one more day to prepare for the Coming of Our God. We have just this last day of Advent to ponder the mystery of being beloved by a God so much so that He Comes to Us! And that is the mystery unfolding before us here. The Lord himself Comes to Us and we are blessed. The Master comes to the Servant! Now, that is astounding! Then, the other fascinating mystery is that our highest Joy comes through Self-Giving. Intuitively, that seems backward. This truth is equally astounding.
My dear Brothers and Sisters, during these next few hours let us make room for God! In the variety and richness of diverse vocations, each one of us is called, like Mary, to accept God into our own life and to travel along the paths of the world with him, proclaiming his Gospel, bearing witness to his love, sharing His Self-Giving, and spreading His Joy.
God has a project for each of us! He “calls” everyone! It is up to each of us to hear this call, to accept it, and to be faithful to it. And in that faithfulness, our Christmas Joy and our acts of Self-Giving will remain with us all year long. May this be the resolution that we all make together today and that we place confidently in Mary’s maternal hands.
Come, Lord Jesus, Come!