Only 15 shopping days left before Christmas! Have you bought the turkey? Are the gifts wrapped? Have you trimmed your Christmas tree? From the shopping malls that are packed with throngs of people to the cheerful carols that are played on the radio each day, there is no escaping the fact that Christmas is just around the corner. But have you stopped to ask yourself what it is that you are actually preparing for? If Christmas is truly the “Mass of Christ,” is all this hustle and bustle really the best way to prepare ourselves for the celebration of Jesus’ birth?
The life of St. John the Baptist was determined by one singular mission: to prepare the people for the coming of their Messiah, Jesus Christ. He challenged them to repent of their sins, to change their ways, and to ask God for forgiveness. His message touched their hearts so deeply that multitudes of people flocked to the wilderness to hear him preach and to be baptized by him in the River Jordan. His only purpose in life was to point the way to Christ, to prepare the people’s hearts for the coming of Jesus.
The words of St. John the Baptist are as relevant today as they were 2000 years ago. We, too, are called to prepare our hearts to welcome Jesus by hearing and meditating on God’s Word, by searching our souls to discover those things that separate us from Him, and to approach Him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation to seek His forgiveness. Advent is a time of humility, of silence, and growth, and although we may be distracted at times by the busyness of the season, it is important to take time to step back from the demands of the world and find that place of peace where Jesus is waiting for us. He wants to penetrate our hearts and take root within us, just as He took root within the womb of His Blessed Mother, Mary. She had nothing to offer Him but herself; all that she could do was to nurture Him as He grew within her body in the simplicity of her daily life. That is all that He wanted of her; that is all that He asked. Today, Jesus asks the same of us. In a spirit of silence, let us nurture His Presence within us until our faith, hope, and love have grown to such a measure of fullness that we, too, are ready to give ourselves completely to Him. For, like Mary, we are all that He wants; we are the best gift of all.
– Sharon van der Sloot