How To Get Ready For The Lord’s Coming: The Treasure of Advent and Christmas
In certain life’s situations, particularly in dealing with problem encounters, we often pause for a while to determine alternative possible solutions, and when we are able to decide on it, we often ask ourselves: “Am I ready for this?” “Am I prepared to venture into something new or different? Will I win or lose? Will I be able to face and overcome obstacles and challenges?
In reality, no one is ever red-carpet ready to do anything, to face every eventuality, much more to face the “world”, especially sans prior notice. You see, once a situation sets in especially when we least expect it, oftentimes our courage to face life’s complexities is being tested. Either we face the problem head-on or we ignore it until things get worse. Surely, we try to prepare for anything that is to come and accept whatever the consequences would be. In life, there are what we call successes and failures. At times, our readiness fails because we dealt with it wrongly, at a wrong time, with a wrong party, and wrong plan. In some instances, we plan things and brainstormed about it, we fought for it until we are able to build and realize our dreams. That’s what life is all about, it is a mystery. As the old cliché says, life in itself is a preparation for many.
As we are aware, Jesus Christ is ever ready for each one of us. But how about us to Him? How about His coming? Are we ready enough for it? As Catholics, we are reminded by the Church to be watchful and to be prepared for the two comings of Jesus into our lives, which is in essence God’s Advent gift to us: His 1st and 2nd coming. The first one pertains to the solemnity of our Savior’s birth at Christmas while the second is about His coming on the Last Judgment or the final day of the world, when He acts as Judge for all the living and dead. In both instances, we are being prompted to be spiritually prepared on what is to come, to be prepared not only for Christmas but for the final days of our lives on earth as well. The only difference is that the second one has no definite date and time, no notification rings or bells from social media platforms, and no warning system devices to alert us that it would be the last day for everyone on earth. Only God knows when would that be. It could be any time, we don’t know, we’re clueless. Hence, the need to remain alert, prepared, i.e., to be ready all the time.
The Advent season in our Church calendar is a great moment for us to reflect on what have we done in the past and what we should do now and the future, specifically on our relationship with God. Even with the pandemic, most of us are faced with an often-hectic life during Christmas, with our work, with our family busy with the preparations for Christmas holidays, e.g. buying presents and attending small party gatherings and all these can be stressful. Because of this, oftentimes we are caught off-guard forgetting to reserve a space daily to ready ourselves and prepare our hearts for Christmas – a celebration of joy expressing our gratefulness to the birth of the Savior who have loved us and sacrificed for us during His first coming. Whatever we do, we have to pray and ask for God’s graces so we can best prepare for Christmas, for we can never be ready just by or with ourselves but only with God.
This is why Advent is labeled as the season of hope, peace, joy and love. It gives us a reason to have hope and confidence in God because of His willingness to help us, to grant us the graces we need when we humbly ask for it. With God’s infinite mercy and kindness, we are given a chance to transform our lives on earth, to change for the better and embrace a new beginning, a new good life. Even in His second coming, the Scriptures assure us that we need not be afraid of this, especially when one is ready for it. That would be the reason for hope and joy in God’s promise of eternal life. Advent is also a season of peace that brings joy to us all. In the world today where it’s filled with conflict, hatred, killings, pride and violence, we are still fortunate to be blessed by God, offering us a time to celebrate His presence peacefully and joyfully, regardless of our status in life. It is a season of love since Jesus himself fulfilled God’s plan of love to us. He gave up His life on earth to save us from damnation, from the evils of this world. Through the Gospel and the Eucharistic celebration, Jesus wants us to listen to His words, and emulate the good deeds that He showed us while He was on earth. He wants us to express and share His love to us not only for ourselves but to other people in dire need, and not only during Christmas time but all the days of our lives.
In essence, God wants us to prepare for His coming, for us to see hope, peace, joy and love as a way of life, not only this Advent season but throughout the liturgical seasons of the year. God wants us to be instruments of joy for the world, just like putting a smile to people we meet everyday, greeting them “Merry Christmas” and giving/exchanging gifts on Christmas day are some simple ways of doing so. Being prepared all the time means living every day what Jesus has taught us: loving our neighbors as ourselves and obeying God’s commands in thoughts, words and deeds and by being responsible Christians and citizens of the world. There are so many things to be done to help “clean” our respective governments, schools, communities, even in our own backyards, helping those who are hurting and in difficulty. Sometimes, this is easier said than done, right? But we have to do it. Certainly, we commit mistakes everyday, we only matter our own lives. But if we strive to follow His commandments with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, God will understand and forgive our infirmities and this is something to be grateful about.
The Holy Father, during the first Sunday of Advent, reminded everyone that an essential ingredient for living an alert and joyful life is prayer. I am a staunch believer in prayers and I truly believe that being prayerful is one of the best gifts that God has given us. Prayers are tools to get us more closer to God, it gives us the chance to dialogue with God. In praying however, we need to be humble because if we lack this virtue, our prayers could be considered an exercise in futility, fruitless and meaningless. And so, we have to pray for this because humility is one of the prerequisites in praying. The Holy Father once mentioned that being alert, focused and vigilant are the requirements to avoid one from “wandering away from the ways of the Lord”. Pope Francis likewise mentioned that the attentive person tries to counter the indifference and cruelty of the world, as such he is aware “of the tears and needs of others”. And that’s where the beauty lies for having such kind of attitude. .
As such, during this Advent and Christmas season, let us seek help from our Blessed Mother , the model of a prayerful woman, to guide us in our prayers that God will bless us and grant us the grace to be ever prepared when the time comes, when we are able to repent for our sins and renew our lives. May this Advent season help us to open our hearts to God, for our hearts to be captured by Jesus to be attentive to His teachings and commandments, to attend to the needs of others, so we can truly relish and enjoy the hidden treasures of Advent and Christmas, the ultimate gift who is Jesus. Amen.
Wishing you all A Very Blessed and Meaningful Advent!