So, what’s your Advent been like? Have you put the Christmas tree up? Ours went up on November 12 (long story). Have your online shopping done? Maybe you share my annual battle where I try to apply coupons that actually work to a photocard-producing company (which shall remain nameless) but rhymes with “butterfly”?
How have we been doing with the other Advent “things”? Like staying awake because we do not know the hour (Gospel, Advent I)? Throwing off the works of darkness (Second Reading, Advent I)? How about cultivating a spirit of wisdom and understanding (First Reading, Advent II)? Or responding to the poor and afflicted with justice (Psalm, Advent II)?
Let’s face it. Trying to live in Advent is depressing, because it seems so impossible. Advent runs completely against the tide of the “Holiday [aka “Christmas”] Season” in which we find ourselves. How can we possibly get out of the crush of electronic buzz and tinsel that strangles us at every turn?
(At least the tinsel isn’t made out of lead anymore—there’s always a silver lining somewhere).
Like our baptism, the waters of Advent rush outward, toward the end of time—which began with the coming of Christ in his Incarnation. The secularized signals of “Christmas” have little to say about that spirit. “Christmas” on a sales flier very much points inward—to what the self can buy (or get). Is not curving inward, with pride and selfishness, the root of all sin?
If so, then we’re really in trouble.
We’ve just celebrated the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Let’s take Mary’s beginning in a life of grace as a signal to remind us of our own baptismal call. Let’s get to the desert: in the clear quiet blank where we can be free of glitzy, discount buys; where we can see the stars; where we can hear the glad tidings; where we can be changed.
So, fear not. The Lord will come and save us. We can get past Christmas. We can bring ourselves to the desert—and prepare the way for the Lord.