We start a new Church year by preparing for Christ’s nativity. Isaiah anticipates His birth in the first reading and the Gospel tells us to be ready when He comes. Lets light the candle on the wreath to begin this readying time. And before our first advent mass, lets confess any sins that block his coming in our lives.
What was the most beautiful thing in your life. Doubtless for a lot of you, it was the cry of your first-born or recently- born baby. For each child is freshness, innocence and wonder. A new unique being has entered our world, with our help, in God’s on-going creation. Its cry offers renewal and hope for the future, new love for searching hearts. Its with similar hope that the church, after ending its year with remembrance of the dead, calls us in its new year to prepare for a divine birth. For if each child is a miracle, and we all feel this, how much more so is the birth of God’s son. For us Christians that birth’s not a one-off. It occurs constantly in the miracle of the church year.
We prepare well when a child is expected; attending meetings with the doctor; buying baby clothes; setting up a nursery; eating nothing that might harm the baby in the womb. So also the church asks us to prepare well for Christmas by fresh inner life and belief. Having lit the candle on advent wreath, lets resolve during advent to cast off inner darkness, shine our soul up as it were. For this baby calls us to fresh prayer and fresh witness.
Christ describes this as staying spiritually awake should he come at any time; for we know not the time nor the hour of our death. We need mornings of renewal to rise from the dark sleep of sin. So that when our soul is required of us we’ll be ready to stand before the Lord in judgment. The world is a testing ground and a “vale of soul-making”. Advent provides an opportunity to hasten that process, in a new morning for the soul. We’re given a time to rise from any sleep or death as Jesus’s birthday approaches. This dark time of year, when light is in short supply, his coming is a beacon beckoning us to leave our inner winter, so that our souls will experience an inner Spring.
I was in a school once and a child put it very well. I was explaining about holy communion. I said without this food we grow weak. “Yes”, said the child, “and we fall down”. He’s right, without God life within, Satan drags us down until we risk being lost altogether. We need times of prayer, confession and charitable outreach to redress any drift in our life. Christ’s baby cry invites us to such renewal now, so that we’ll be bright stars at Christmas. “Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today”, the carol says. If Christ is reborn in each of us at advent, there is new hope for the church and the world too.
But its a preparation not only for his first coming but also his second at the end of time. We cleanse our hearts now so that we’ll be ready to go out to meet him with the saints at last and he’ll say “well done good and faithful servant”. For the new heaven and the new earth then, must be shaped by us now. And we’re wise to do so for everyone’s good. For the godless values of which Satan is lord pass away at last and leave us empty before eternity, but Christ is lord of love, glory, and peace for our deep happiness in this world and forever and ever amen.
So as the people of God calls to renew our inner life this advent to be ready for Christ’s coming at Christmas, at our death, and at the end of time, lets reaffirm our faith.
Prayers of the Faithful
And as God’s people preparing for Christ’s birth at Christmas. lets ask our Father for the things we need this advent.
For our Holy Father the Pope and all our pastors that through their efforts the church may be a true mother bringing the saving light of the Christ child anew to the faithful and the world.
For civil leaders that they may contribute to the welfare of all their people by the laws they pass this new year.
For youth, that, inspired by Christ’s birth this Christmas, they may make a new commitment to Him and his church for their deeper happiness in this world, and the final salvation of their souls.
For ourselves in our families that through this advent of prayer, fasting and almsgiving we may be freed from sin and renewed within to face the new year with fresh minds, hearts and souls.
For all the fathers and mothers preparing for a birth this holy season, that it may bring immense happiness and joy to them.
For the sick, the lonely, the aged and the poor that they may be freed, healed and comforted by the coming of the Christ child. May our care and love bring Christ to them this Christmas.
For the dead, especially those who have died recently….that they may be reborn to a new life and come home to God, their gentle and loving Father and Mother in heaven..
And we ask all these our prayers through Christ, born for us this holy season in overflowing peace, grace and joy, amen.
There are 3 ways to approach Christmas. The consumer way: buy, buy, buy, And end up with a hangover and bad bank balance. The Dickens way of good will, roaring fires, snowy scenes. And the Christian way, that adds extra joys in the Spirit to this good second way, and ushers in a new year of grace, love and generosity. By balancing these three we celebrate Christmas to the full, in body and spirit, we make the Word “flesh” now. So family feasts and reunions are as vital to the season as prayer. Lets pray to Christ’s mother for a glorious joyful advent and Christmas in body, mind and Spirit..Hail Mary.