This guest post is by Deacon Kevin Bagley, Director of Verbum.
We journey closer to Christmas and our anticipation heightens. Last week Jesus spoke of the end times, and we now hear John the Baptist telling us to, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” We must live our lives as Jesus has asked if we want to be part of the Kingdom.
Isaiah tells us that we need to turn our hearts to God. The spirit of the Lord shall come, bestowing gifts upon us: wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, and fear of the Lord. Along with piety, these are the spiritual gifts we receive at Confirmation. The Messiah is so powerful and his message so strong that he will bring peace and justice to all creatures.
Paul tells us that living a Christian life means maintaining peace with each other. During Advent, we should examine our relationship with God and also look at our relationships with others. Now is the time to become reconciled with one another. Now is the time to bring peace into strained relationships.
Take some time to discriminate between the messages you hear this Advent: John the Baptist asks us to prepare, but so do the merchants. John wants us to prepare for eternity; the merchants want us to prepare for a particular event. John urges us to turn to God and be saved; the merchants are ultimately interested selling their products. Yes, we want to have a wonderful Christmas, but if we are not good stewards and live the gospel message, eternity will be a living Hell, literally.
As a reminder: Monday, December 8, is a Holy Day of Obligation. We celebrate Mary’s Immaculate Conception. In 1854, Pope Pius IX declared that the Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the very first instant of her conception, exempt from sin and clothed in sanctifying grace. It is a wonderful opportunity to gather in prayer as community and thank Mary for saying YES to God!