THE Church has set aside this four-week period of Advent as a time of spiritual preparation for Christ’s coming.
It is a time of quiet anticipation.
If Christ is going to come again into our hearts, there must be repentance.
Without repentance, our hearts will be so full of worldly things that there will be “no room in the inn” for Christ to be born again.
Each day of Advent can become a daily retreat for those who desire love and peace. With reflection, prayer, reading and meditation, we can make our hearts a place where a blessing of peace would desire to abide and where the birth of the Prince of Peace might take place.
Advent is also a time for a daily examination of our lives.
Are there any feelings of discrimination toward race, sex, or religion?
Are there any lingering resentments, or unforgiving injuries living in our hearts?
Are we generous with the gifts that God has graciously given to us, seeing ourselves as their stewards and not their owners?
Are we deeply respectful of others, their ideas and needs, and of creation?
These and other questions become Advent lights by which we may search the deep, dark corners of our hearts to give us a clue to avoid suffering from spiritual poverty.
In the society we live in today it is very sad to note that there are so many people who live their lives taking drugs, some party and drink like crazy on many occasions. Some want everything now and even feel that the world exists only for them and their individual consumption.
Some are constantly dreaming of reaching a point in their lives where they can afford to live in a mansion in an upmarket part of town.
It also appears that the society we live in today has made money and material things our gods and pursue them because we believe that they will satisfy us and bring us happiness.
I read recently, that if you seek to be happy, you never will be.
American philosopher Erick Hoffer apparently had it right when he wrote: “The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness.”
According to Jesus, if you deny yourself and seek to be holy, happiness comes as a by-product.
In my many years as a long serving Ambulance Officer and as a member of the Vincentian Family, in endeavouring to see Jesus in the face of the poor, the disadvantaged and many other people, I have sadly observed that many successful and unsuccessful young and older individuals suffer from spiritual poverty and loneliness.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta had a lot of insights in regard to poverty and disease.
She worked tirelessly with the poorest of the poor and devoted more of her life to loving them than anyone who has ever lived.
Recently I read that in spite of her time with the materially poor, she had this to say about the poverty of the West: “The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or Leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty – it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There is a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”
It is easy to get caught up in the craziness of Christmas in today’s world.
Just look around, shoppers crowd the stores in the last couple of weeks prior to Christmas and to many it becomes exhausting just thinking about it.
It is indeed a tragedy that many people in the world today have no idea what Christmas is really about, being the celebration of the Birth of Jesus Christ.
What a wonderful gift God the Father gave us by giving Jesus to the world.
It is also very sad to note that in Australia and many countries and shopping centres around the world, the old familiar manger scenes have been stripped from most public places along with Jesus’s name and message being banned from holiday celebrations.
This Advent let us all resolve to clear ourselves of our cluttered lives and be committed to make Advent a period of anticipation and joy by preparing the way to celebrate the birth of Christ and contemplate on His second coming.
Brian Moore is the former president of the Queensland St Vincent de Paul Society.
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