Third week of Advent with Christmas slightly over a week away, are you panicked and burdened with so much yet to do? Presents to buy and wrap? Christmas cards to send? Dinners to plan and invitations to mail? It is that time of year and hard for most of us to focus on what is central to the season of Advent.
Two of today’s readings speak of rejoicing- the Old Testament’s prophet Isaiah and Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians- which, if you think about it, is central to all our preparations for Christmas. Our presents, Christmas cards, and family dinners are to show and express joy. How often does joy get swallowed up in the preparation and anxiety! Joy does not depend on the amount of presents we have or give nor on the abundance at the dinner table, but on gratitude for what we have. Joy is an attitude of gratitude which is grounded on a recognition of love and, for Christians, a hope centered on the Incarnation.
We are filled with gratitude because we have come to know and relate to Jesus Christ, a God who freely chose to be like us out of love. A God who wanted so much to be with His people that He chose the limitations of a human body, having to learn language, a trade and suffer hunger! A God who is not only with us but understands humanity, because He lived as one of us- even to suffering death.
So during our final week preparations perhaps we can take a few minutes and remember why? Why the dinners, the cards and the presents- not because of keeping up with the Jones but showing our joy to others for God and those whom we love.
Perhaps also show gratitude to those who work with the poor, particularly the Mission Doctors who serve those who normally would have no medical care.