- A Reflection by Don Wilson, offered at the Coxsackie Correctional Facility
How is Advent going for you? Are you preparing a way for the Lord? Are you giving yourself a chance to see the presence of the Lord? God gives a different grace in each season of the liturgical year. Let us not miss out on the time of our visitation. To use the words of John the Baptist in the desert, are you making a straight way for the visitation of God? Are you receiving the grace God is offering you this Advent? This Advent is a time when God will visit you if you allow him. So how is Advent going for you? If you have not yet begun to make a straight way for the Lord to receive his grace begin today. It is never too late to begin.
How might you receive the grace God is offering you this Advent? If you can, spend more time in prayer with God this Advent. Spend time with God searching for the answers to your problems. You look forward to spending time with your brother’s in Christ here at Coxsackie and your families when they come to visit – then look forward with anticipation to spending time with God in prayer each day during Advent. Instead of just going through the motions during this season of Advent can you celebrate Advent with your heart? There are also many books available with Advent reflections.
If Advent is only a time of consumerism and buying gifts for people that they don’t really want or need, it is flying against the face of what Jesus is all about. How many times in our shopping excursions and hurrying around the malls and stores do we hear announcements like: (Where’s the line to see Jesus?) –Never! Jesus is the grace that God wants to give to you this Advent.
The Father is always willing to give, but it is up to us to un-wrap his gift of Jesus to us. Advent is a time to renew and deepen our relationship with God. It is a time of patient waiting for God, prayerful and trustful waiting for God. Because this season of Advent is so important the Church gives us four weeks to celebrate it and in the Orthodox Churches the season of Advent is even longer, it is 40 days like our season of Lent. Celebrate Advent with your heart; it is an opportunity to step back from the consumerism of the materialistic world and make a straight way for the Lord to receive the special grace God has planned for you this season.
To receive the grace God is offering us this Advent let us also reflect on whether we put God first in our life always. If God is not first, we are missing out on the grace God is offering us. Many people do not like Christmas because their wishes for happiness are never fulfilled and many are happy when Christmas has passed.
It is a time of year when some people are lonely or depressed and they try to fill up that loneliness with “things.” Having things does not leave the impression of having received the grace God is offering.
Are they seeking the grace of God or instead seeking something worldly that will never satisfy like the grace God gives?
Nothing in this world will fill the longing in our hearts for the grace of God. Only Jesus will fill our emptiness. The 62nd Psalm reminds us of this:
In God alone is my soul at rest;
my help comes from him.
He alone is my rock, my stronghold,
my fortress: I stand firm. (Ps 62:1-2)
That longing will not be fulfilled by anything we find under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning but only by Jesus whom you will meet in the Eucharist on Christmas Day.
To receive the grace that God offers us this Advent, as well as spending much time in prayer with God and putting God first, let us also reflect on whether our lives are modeled on the life of Jesus whose birth we are about to celebrate. Is Jesus the one we look to for guidance? Is Jesus the one who is shaping our life?
To receive the grace God offers you this Advent an examination of conscience is necessary and that is why celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation is an important part of Advent.
As we examine our consciences we recognize that our lives do not model or reflect Jesus and we want to ask for mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that our hearts can become a manger to receive Jesus. At the end of this month we will hear a lot of talk of New Year resolutions. But now, Advent, is the time for making a resolution, a resolution to live like Jesus whose birth we are about to celebrate. Jesus is the light of the world and Advent is a time to come out of the darkness and walk in the light of Jesus.
God gives us a different grace in every liturgical season and God has a grace to give you this Advent. Again, if Advent is only a time of consumerism and buying gifts for people that they don’t really want or need, it is flying in the face of what Jesus is all about. There is only one gift at Christmas:
The Gift is Jesus!
Jesus is the grace that the Father wants to give to us this Advent. Let us spend time with God to receive this grace. When Jesus was entering Jerusalem for the last time he cried because the people of Jerusalem did not recognize the time of their visitation (Luke 19:41-42). Let us not miss out on the grace God is offering us this Advent.