Pulpit Reflections By Father Donald Imming The traditional observance of Christmas involves a period preceding the feast itself of approximately four weeks called Advent. To be precise Advent begins four Sundays prior to Christmas. It is intended to be a period of spiritual preparation for the Christmas season.
To explain Advent to the children at St. Agnes School, I recently asked them to do the following. Pretend that Jesus is exactly your age as he was growing up. Suppose he more or less invited himself to come your house to spend the night on Christmas Eve. You run to tell your parents. They say okay. But he has to stay in your room, which is possible since there are two beds there. And you have to clean up the mess there, so that the family will not be embarrassed to have Jesus as a guest. They continue: you must pick up your clothes off the floor and either hang them up or put them away, nicely folded, in a drawer. You must put your various shoes in the closet in order. You must sweep up the dirt accumulated there and throw away the other junk. And you must make your bed for a change.
Then I made the point that Jesus may not actually be coming to your house to stay overnight on Christmas Eve, but he definitely wants to come into your heart and mind on Christmas. However you must clean up the mess there if Jesus is not to be embarrassed as your guest.
How do you clean it up? Three ways. First by becoming more prayful. You don't want Jesus to come into your heart and say to you: "Who are you? I haven't talked with you for a long time." Make it a point to pray every day during the Advent-Christmas season, no matter how briefly. Short prayer can be good prayer. Secondly, examine your life to see what needs changing. Tell Jesus you are sorry for what is out of place there and resolve to start making some changes. Thirdly, start being less selfish and self-centered, and being more helpful to others. To your parents, to your brothers and sisters, to your classmates, and so on.
Of course the analogy would be different in talking to adults about Advent, but the message would be the same.
The word "advent" comes from the Latin word meaning "coming." Three comings of Christ are interwoven as themes in the traditional Advent liturgy of the western world. Christ's coming in the past at Bethlehem; his coming in the future in his glory to save his people at the end of time; and his coming into our hearts at Christmas. And the last is the most important. Shouldn't we prepare for it?