Advent season greetings!
What a beautiful season we are in! We re-enter the world that’s waiting for its Savior, we experience the anticipation of all that is not yet right with the world as it longs for righteousness, we commiserate with the misery of others who long for the manifestation of God’s mercy.
In other words, we’re asked to look squarely at everything that has not yet been touched by God’s grace, and to desire for God to enter into those things. We can see ancient Israel aching both from its infidelity to God and its desire to be reconciled to Him. Our readings at Mass remind us again and again that the people who sat in darkness weren’t made for darkness, and at least sometimes longed for light. But these readings, this perspective on ancient Israel, aren’t to console us that now Jesus’ job is done and all is well. They’re given to us to jolt our hearts, so that we might long for Jesus here and now, in our lives and the lives of those we love.
This is not just a season for stringing lights and singing carols; it’s a season to ask the question, “Where has Jesus not yet come into my life, my world, my relationships, and do I long for Him to come there?” It’s the season to ask the question, “What difference would Christ make if He was invited into my work? Into my neighborhood? Into my marriage?” He was only welcomed into a little stable two thousand years ago, and that changed everything. Imagine if we invited Him into any other scenario!
Advent is the season for longing for Jesus. It’s an invitation to experience a pain that is only assuaged by the coming of Christ, even if we or our loved ones would often rather ignore the pain or try to fix the pain or mask the pain with the pleasures of the world.
Authentic zeal for souls is born from such longing. Authentic missionary discipleship begins when we don’t turn away from that pain. The Lord hears the cry of the poor, and we’re called to hear it too—the spiritually poor as well as the physically poor. For those who do not yet know Jesus, this is the time to sympathize, and may well be the time to evangelize, to introduce people to the Person of Jesus Christ.
By all means, we can spend Advent preparing for Christmas by decking our halls with boughs of holly, but they should be bedecked so that we can welcome Christ into our hearts more deeply, and so that we can introduce Him to those who don’t yet know Him. A month to petition God on our own behalf to come as our King into our lives, and a month to intercede for others for God to come into their lives however they might receive Him—it hardly seems long enough, even with the four full weeks of Advent we’re given this year!
Come Lord Jesus!