November 26, 2016
“...Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap..." (Luke 21: 34-36)
What great Gospel to finish our Liturgical year and start of this Advent season. In fact it is a great reminder to my own self that at all times Jesus must be celebrated.
The problem with Christmas season (based on my own witness) is that I often prepare my heart but is my body the one being gratified at the end, with the various celebrations, presents and drinks there will be. And maybe I am not alone on this, we often miss the point of "We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year"... thus the problem is not usually the "Merry Christmas" but the "Happy New Year" part. Baby Jesus usually doesn't make it to New Year's eve, we either get distracted with the anxieties of life making up new resolutions for the upcoming year (that usually we fail to complete ), or the carousing and drunkenness of the festivities (my most memorable drunk stories have happened post-convertion... not proud but it is a fact worth mentioning to make my point).
We can be lacking the real Christmas spirit if it is forgotten by new year's eve, this is why we try to fill our hearts up with things which make our hearts drowsy: not only the lights, the parties and the presents, but also with a generic seasonal prayerful routine and service to the less fortunate. Pretty much we try to make up for the months in which we lacked the joy of the Gospel and did not live it fully.This is an inner problem, and because it is an inner problem it must be solved with inner solutions.
And guess what?: Jesus is the answer (#CatholicCliché101)
Advent is not a quick fix, but a genuine transformation we must seek to live. Jesus is the answer, so we must prepare ourselves to receive him in our hearts... but not the overly cute and chubby baby Jesus we often see portrayed in every Christmas card, but the hungry crying baby waking up three times at night to be fed, the annoying little one crying out of cold as he lays in a manger, the baby that frustrated Mary as she had no idea how to nurse him for the first time.
The real Jesus in our real selves. This is the Jesus we must receive, this is the true spirit of Christmas: a spirit of true joy, not only self happiness.
If happiness comes as an extra gift, receive it, but if it doesn't: remember how difficult must have been to give birth in a dirty place surrounded by animals and still bringing joy to the world from there.
Brothers and sisters in baby Jesus, the spirit of Christianity is a spirit of love, faith and discomfort with this world and not necessarily happiness for happiness is momentary. And I am sure that parents will agree to say it may not make them happy to change a diaper at four in the morning, but the joy has no measure and is everlasting. This is the type of joy we must prepared ourselves to live during this advent. A real thing, no a resolution or a crazy ideal, but a real joy in the reality of our daily and spiritual lives in which we patiently expect.
Brothers and sisters in Mary, joy can be lived out even in the discomforts of our reality (We all know this), thus the problem which makes our hearts drowsy is that we try to make ourselves happy during this season and it becomes about ourselves: what we give! What we receive! How we feel! ... so we forget that we should seek to be joyful no matter what.
Brothers and sisters in St. Joseph. I pray that we can live this advent season like a poor shepherd: being woken up in the middle of the night to make known the savior has been born, and in the discomfort of walking every single sheep to the appointed place... gets there to offer his company with no much to give but his poor self. Or St. Joseph who in the vigil of the night, fearful for his life, is still willing to give it up for his beautiful wife and his tender son.
May we receive Christ in the wholeness of our hearts. So that our hearts will be filled with real love and enjoy the lights, the presents, the drinks and the places... only if Jesus is at the center of all these
May we live as many moments of happiness as possible, but not because we need to fulfill something missing, but because Jesus is our true source.
In Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph.