Celebrating the Season of Hope 7

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.


  1. Thanks, James. Happy first week of Advent. I love this time of the year because I can dust off my old K of C “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” button and wear it as a reminder of what’s really important.

    • Hi Terry! I think this is the most wonderful time of the year. Christ came and will come again, and is ever present. If he is present in us, we can be his hands and feet, and his ears, eyes, and mouth to other people. When Jesus lives in us we are the living signs for others of his coming into the world. This season is the opportune time for being that other Christ for others. I know that in your occupation/vocation as a nurse, you understand this very well. God bless you with a Happy Advent!

  2. Merry Christmas to you, too, James. I love the post, and the song as well, for much the same reason. It is about the bustle of preparation, and makes it a good Advent song.
    God works His love and joyful news through everything.

    I hope that you continue to wish people a Merry Christmas, to say the “C” word out loud, and to make the eye contact with a smile that invites a response.
    Please be sure especially to wish store clerks and government employees a Merry Christmas as well–most of us long to say it and share in those wishes, but are forbidden to. HOWEVER we CAN respond if the customer/citizen initiates it . . .
    It is ridiculous, but remember that each person’s smile and words can open the door for all of us, let that little bit of light in.

    • I love it when I hear Christmas music playing in a store this time of year, and as I’m humming along about half way through, it dawns on me, “Hey! This really is Christmas music!”

      This happened to me just the other day in Lowes (deserves mention). They were playing one of my all time favorite versions of “Oh Holy Night!” by Nat King Cole. That definitely makes me want to go back.

      There really is a lot we can do to remind people about Christ as Christmas approaches. A warm, inviting smile might encourage some people to say it — “Merry Christmas!” I’m really glad you brought this up, because I’m going to say Merry Christmas to every store clerk and waitress I meet. After all, they probably want to say it too. Now that I know what you told me, you’ve given me a mission. Merry Christmas, Reinkat!

      • I am so glad that you will do that–and none of that “Happy Holidays” wishy-washy politically correct stuff, either. It is so good when someone dares to say the words directly! Merry Christmas!

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