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Advent – What’s really important?

Today is the first Sunday of Advent and I’d like to open with the thoughts of my 11 year old daughter, Elizabeth:

Well, today is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is a special time, and it means that it’s almost Christmas!!! Christmas is exciting….the presents, the dinner, the guests, but it’s not the real reason we celebrate Christmas. Jesus was born on that date, you know. I believe we should celebrate Jesus’ birthday on Christmas, too. Maybe while you and your family are eating the turkey and stuffing and corn that night (yum), say a prayer to Jesus asking him to bless you and everyone this Christmas.

After Elizabeth wrote this, I was reading an article about Advent by Aux. Bishop Daniel Thomas in Philadelphia’s Catholic Standard and Times. Bishop Thomas writes, ”Are you getting ready for Christmas or are you preparing for the coming of The Lord?” He then goes on to suggest that the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) is a great way to prepare for the birth of the Christ child. How many times do we get caught up in the trap of the Christmas “rat race” without taking a look at our spiritual life? Our faith teaches us that Jesus will come again in glory someday. He will come again sooner than that for many of us, as we will all see Him immediately after our death. It is at that time that we will be judged. Are we prepared to meet Him? In today’s gospel reading Jesus tells us, “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” (Mk 13:33)

Both my daughter and Bishop Thomas hit the nail on the head with their comments. Are we truly preparing for the coming of The Lord this Advent? Has the Christmas season become nothing more than additional stress for our already hectic lives? Why not begin our preparation for the Lord’s coming by receiving the Sacrament of Confession? This great sacrament will give us a “fresh start” and provide grace which will help eliminate some of the imperfections from our lives.

As we begin this holy season, let’s try to keep things in the proper perspective. Eliminating some of our shortcomings would be a great present for the newborn King!

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