From the Preface of the Mass
For he assumed at his first coming the lowliness of human flesh,
and so fulfilled the design you formed long ago,
and opened for us the way to eternal salvation,
that, when he comes again in glory and majesty
and all is at last made manifest,
we who watch for that day may inherit the great promise
in which now we dare to hope.
One of my favorite Christmas songs begins: City sidewalks, busy sidewalks…
… In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas (though it’s not quite Christmas yet).
Not a religious song, but that opening line captures the mood for me every time. It comes to mind as I observe scurrying moms and their bundled-up children bustling through crowds in the mall; the ring of the Salvation Army bell; the blue-eyed corner Santa Clause; the tinsel and the lights – this is all part of getting ready for the one who is to come.
Eyes and ears don’t see and hear much of Jesus in all this – which is fine, if you think about it this way: Christmas isn’t here yet. We are supposed to awaiting his coming, with vigilance and hope, as the Advent preface reminds us.
Hence, the ubiquitous sense of anticipation that seems to penetrate every thought and movement, on the streets and in the stores, on every corner, each and every day till Christmas finally comes.
To the thoughtful observer, who has Christ in his heart, Jesus is present in all these things. This is the seasonal build up to Christmas. In some respect, it is meant to be this way.
I still wonder, though, if similar thoughts ever occur to these passers-by, that Jesus is very mindful of them at this time. I really hope they do. I hope they take time to reflect on Christ’s coming and on preparing themselves as spiritually as they do physically for the feast on Christmas day, when our Hope gives way to Joy.
While I try to remain dethatched from this scene that I’m a part of, I want to share with others what this season means to me. So I make eye contact and exchange smiles with people. As Christmas approaches, I’ll say, “Merry Christmas,” even though it’s not Christmas quite yet. I want them to have a Merry Christmas, and I want them to start thinking about it now – thinking about the reasons why we do this every year, and why we should enjoy it. Thinking about Christ in their hearts, with fervor, peace, and joy.
God wants to show us something this Advent. He want’s each person to experience his coming in a unique and personal way. It is possible for us to miss this and not have this experience. At the same time, it is possible for us to let God make this season the most meaningful Advent and Christmas yet. How?
Let us remember to be watchful, prayerful, and hopeful during this time. Spend more time with the family, preparing the house together, reading and praying together, doing things differently than we normally do to emphasize that this is a special time – a time meant for us to be closer to Christ.
I think it’s appropriate now to wish you all a Merry Christmas, since that is what we should be wishing for at this time. To do that, we should also focus on Advent. Focus on his coming now, and his peace will fill your hearts when Christmas comes.