Sunday, December 09, 2012

First Sunday of Advent (Dec 2012)

Watch yourselves,
or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery
and drunkenness
and the cares of life,
and that day will be sprung on you suddenly,
like a trap.
For it will come down on every living man
on the face of the earth.
Stay awake, praying at all times
for the strength to survive all that is going to happen,
and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.

Our contemporary culture has influenced us to look at different things with regards to Christmas. Ask any child what Christmas is about and chances are he or she will say, “Presents and Santa Claus.” Only one who has been formed well by good Christian parents will say, “Baby Jesus,” without batting an eyelid. Why so? Christmas has become the perfect opportunity for retailers to retail. They have taken the Christmas message of giving to new heights (or depths, depending on one's perspective). “Christmas is a time for giving,” is rather common to our ears, is it not? There is nothing wrong with the message per se. It is how we use the message. The reason for giving is that God gave us His only begotten Son. The Son of God took flesh, i.e. became a human being, a being less than God, so that we might be saved. The reason for giving is that Christ had come. The focus is Christ, not the season. The focus of Advent should then be the preparation of ourselves to receive Christ. The worldly ideas of buying gifts, preparing menus and decorating the house can distract us. We can end up getting drunk on the wrong ideas and the cares of worldly life so much so that our hearts become coarse. Christmas no longer centres on God's gift to humanity, but our gifts to others.

Advent is a time for preparing our hearts to receive the Infant Jesus. We should try to refrain from pre-empting Christmas like singing carols and having Pre-Christmas parties. I suppose that we would be expected to have the obligatory office Christmas celebrations before Christmas. We can't really fault those who are not Christians, and they form the majority of our society. However, as Catholics, are we on the right path? Are our focus still on Christ? So, how are we, as Catholics, preparing ourselves for Christmas?

I had been embarrassed to post this last week as I found myself at the Crazy Christmas show an hour after I had celebrated the last Mass for the morning. I enjoyed the show but felt guilty for not practising what I was preaching. During the week, I was led to Matt 23:3, which says, “so practise and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practise.” Thus, at the risk becoming like the Pharisees, I post this because what I have written was not wrong but for God's glory. Not posting would have been the more selfish thing to do.

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