People often wonder why the Season of Advent begins with warnings about the end days and with the proclamation of John the Baptist in the wilderness? Isn’t Advent all about preparing for Christmas? Well, yes and no. The Season of Advent is concerned with the two “comings” of Jesus (Advent means “coming”). We prepare at the beginning of Advent for the Second Coming of Jesus at the end of time (and perhaps more personally, to our individual end of time here on earth). That is why we hear the Gospel readings in which Jesus cautions us to “stay alert” or “stay awake”.
Each day we should remember that we are given only such much time in this world and that we “do not know the day nor the hour” when the Lord will call us home. That is also why we hear the preaching of John the Baptist. We are called to “prepare the way of the Lord” in our lives and in our broken world. It is only on the Fourth (Last) Sunday of Advent that we begin to get around to the Christmas story. I think it is wonderful that when the rest of the world is celebrating Christmas right after Halloween (and in the stores even before!), we as Catholics are learning patience in the time up to the real season of Christmas. Remember, for us Christians, Christmas is a weeks-long celebration, not just one day! If you make Advent special, savoring its unique message and flavor, Christmas will be even sweeter this year! Happy Advent! Prepare the way of the Lord!
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