We live in a privileged time of expectant waiting. We live in a time with access to the fullness of Truth found in the Word of God and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We live always awaiting the birth of our Lord, mindful of the shadow of the Cross, and hopeful in the Resurrection of our Saviour. We have in many ways access to the “complete story” the fullness of Truth and knowledge of the One through whom, by obedience we can attain eternal life. To acknowledge this reality is to also be aware of our own end, of our own return to dust. We are better able to make sense of Christ’s birth when we reconcile with the reality of His passing and suffering from this world.
We can “prepare the way” more efficiently by recognizing the implications of what the birth of this Saviour truly means. We can venture back in time and into Scripture to educate ourselves on the state of humanity at the time of Christ’s birth. We witness hardness of heart, lack of faith, immense sin, and turning away from God. We can see the reality of our days mirrored there. We undoubtedly witness the same within our current surroundings. We can affirm our continual need for our Redeemer and ongoing repentance.
We anticipate the birth of Christ each year, preparing the way of the Lord by clearing out the pathway of our cluttered souls. This is a season of great hope and joy, but we must maintain a spirit of sacrifice and penance in order to prepare well. The readings at the end of our Liturgical year echo this reality of sin and darkness in our midst. We hear of ‘The end of times” and the need for repentance and conversion. These readings can challenge us. They can lead to discomfort and deeper questions. They should not lead us to a hopeless fear, but toward a holy fear and hopeful expectation of the Lord to come. They should leave us trembling with motivation to pursue sanctity and humbly beg for the mercy that our Lord so generously offers us. We are not to numb ourselves with feel good theologies/ideologies but perpetually seek to purify our faith as it is tested.
The terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13th, 2015 invited the temptation of great fear. I sat in Mass on that Sunday listening to the Gospel message gazing at my eight month old daughter, wondering what this world would be for her in the coming years.The Gospel passage was Mark 13:24-32. There is much spoken of in this Gospel that can rouse fear, yet it is within this same very Scripture where we are reminded of the promise of God, the hope of our Lord for his faithful. The promising of His enduring word to not pass away should comfort us. Today, our secular society likes to drive home the joy, hope, and happiness of these days. Festive celebrations and materialistic consumption can often take precedent over the most important Event of all time; the birth of the Son of God into humanity!
We do well to focus our attention on His humble birth to a lowly handmaid of the Lord. When we reflect upon the two Servants chosen by God to serve as the earthly parents of Jesus we can begin to understand the very way we are to prepare ourselves in virtue to receive Him into our hearts. The way that we are called to serve Him is most exemplified by His first servants, St. Joseph and the most Blessed Virgin Mary.
United with them, embracing the unknown that is to come, we faithfully endure understanding “that day or hour, no one knows,neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." We cling by faith to the will of Father. With hope and expectant waiting for Christ’s birth. For the “God who is, who was, and is to come at the end of the ages, will not forsake his people. May we praise and glorify His Holy Name.- C.C.