(This reflection is offered by David Carvalho, who is our Youth Minister at St. Edward’s.)
With the Second week of Advent kicking off this past Sunday, we come one step closer to both the beautiful encounter that is Christmas and realizing that we have one less week to order our gifts unless we have Amazon Prime!
As I try to avoid pondering what my final present selections will be, this past Sunday’s scripture readings offer ample opportunity for procrastination. Oh Isaiah, ever ready to call us back to God. He paints a beautiful picture for us of reconciliation, one given freely to us by God and of which we should not be ashamed to proclaim. And then there’s Mark, who doesn’t spare St. John the Baptist any privacy in his dietary or fashion choices. Once again we see the beautiful call given to us by Isaiah: John is the one preparing the way and this noble image beckons us to do the same. Let’s not forget the Psalm, painting a serene image of the encounter between kindness and truth, justice and peace.
While Isaiah, Mark, and the Psalmist give the above images, Peter gives thievery. Joy to the world. Nothing says happy holidays like the day of the Lord looming over your head, the heavens passing away with a mighty roar, and the elements being dissolved by fire. Sounds more like a public service announcement for Christmas tree electrical fires.
Yet, out of all these scripture passages, with all their beautiful imagery (and I mean that sincerely), Peter calls out the most to me. His is a call to become aware of what I most often do each year. Four weeks of Advent fly by with everything but the preparation of my heart for the King of Kings. Then I find myself on Christmas Eve trying to fulfill 4 weeks of spiritual journeying in a few hours before Midnight Mass.
Peter’s language may be blunt, but hey – sometimes we need that. He is excited and full of fervor because he has experienced the joy of being with Jesus, and he desperately does not want us to miss out. It begs the question: are we truly excited about our relationship with God? Have we ever asked ourselves the question: do I know God loves me?
Advent is about much more then counting down the days and candles until Christmas (seriously, the only Advent paraphernalia I’ve ever seen are Advent calendars and wreaths). It is about falling in love again with the One who loved us enough to be born into the world, a light into darkness, and to die for us for the expiation of our sins. It is not an image to fear or to cause overwhelming guilt. It is an image to fall in love with.
Jesus made His home in that manger in Bethlehem. Although Mark paints a vivid picture of St. John the Baptist, no evangelist gives details as to the condition of the stable. It could have been spic and span, or a dirty trash heap. Either way, Jesus arrived. The same is true with us. Our cups may be overflowing, or we may be broken. Either way, Jesus comes to us. He comes to us in the passings and depths of every day and asks: may I make a temple of you?
The day of the Lord is coming, and in this case we know the day and the hour. Peter calls us to holiness, to preparation, to peace. Let us make each day count so that when Christmas comes it will not pass by quickly like a thief, but linger like a guest.