15 Dec An Empty Crib!
Advent works primarily through the Cardinal virtue of patience.
There can be a joy in waiting, if we have time to reflect and appreciate what Christmas is about, this brings faith and hope. Let us remember how the people of Israel waited for four thousand years for The Messiah to arrive. We have a shorter time to wait, only thirty days during Advent. So, it can be overwhelming as we really need to prepare not just externally, but internally is more important, and not let God pass us by. Let us never forget Jacob from the Old Testament (also known as Israel) who waited the whole night striving with God and only early next morning did he receive the blessing!
We can imitate the Old Testament people, as well as The NEW Testament people like the wise kings, Simeon and Anna, who waited in holiness for Christ, to come and fill the earth with His glorious Presence!
Simeon rejoiced after waiting nearly all his life,
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace….for my eyes have seen The glory of your people Israel.”LK 2:28-32.
So how do we wait ? In holiness, would be the answer, if we are to seek the blessing. So let us spell out, what we mean.
Firstly speaking of God’s glorious presence that Simeon beheld in his arms, this is a time when we must behold The God on the alters of our Church, in The Tabernacle. We must spend more time in adoring and worshiping and beholding His Eucharistic presence!
Praise and worship should be our highest form of prayer, it is a great way of preparation for His Coming, and a fitting response to
Emmanuel, meaning God is with us! Let’s not take His Eucharistic presence for granted, but spend more time in prayer before HIM.
Going further with The Presence of God, let us talk about prophet Isaiah, who was whisked into God’s presence as well. We immediately know that something is wrong, when we are in God’s presence, we sense our unworthiness! Isaiah, was humbled in God’s presence, when he cried, “Woe to me! I am a man of unclean lips…and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” The New Testament also shows the humble centurion who said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof..”
Advent is a great moment to reconcile with God, using the sacrament of confession which paves the way to a glorious union with Christ in Holy Communion, especially on Christmas day!
Isaiah was consoled when the angel touched a burning coal to his sinful lips, how much more we, when we receive God – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity worthily, ours is a much greater consolation and healing!
This makes us hungry also, to know this merciful and great God more. It is a time to deepen our relationship as well, by reading The Word of God, and getting excited at His coming and longing for it!
Setting time aside for daily reflection and meditating on God’s Word as per The Church’s missal, is a great and precise way, for the meeting with Christ. Just like the wise men who aside from being led by The Star, were also guided by The Scriptures when they consulted Herod and the Scholars, who referred The Scriptures to tell them the exact place of Christ’s birth, let us also study God’s Word now and find Christ and be excited!
Sure we are distracted by many hardships, in these times especially, spiritually, financially and even health wise as we are in the pandemic situation. But like Mary and Joseph, despite the hardships through scandals, doubts, betrayals, big moves from a village called Nazareth to Bethlehem, yet their hearts and minds were focused on the joy and wonder of discovering God! The distractions around us will also become less, when we set our hearts and minds on preparing to see The Face of God. God especially and always meets us, in and after trails, His glory is really manifest clearly and we delight in it.
Advent also helps to stay focused, through a spirit of penitence. This creates more room in our hearts for The Messiah to dwell in when He comes, when we divest ourselves of not needed things.
I suggest doing this by using the thought of an empty crib! Let us make small sacrifices during Advent, and note them down on little strips of paper, placing them in a little box signifying a spiritual crib (our hearts). The more strips of paper we put inside ( indicating sacrifices we made) the more warm will our hearts be this Christmas, for The Christ child to dwell in.
So in closing let us again, like the humble centurion declare and be ready, “Lord I am not worthy to have You under my roof, but only say The Word and I will be clean”
Let the preparations begin!
Wishing us all a happy and blessed advent.