It seems that the preparation for Christmas is abuzz. The shopping centers are ablaze with lights and Christmas carols fill the air. Everyone is getting deep into the Christmas shopping for gifts, decorating the Christmas tree, finalizing the menu for Noche Buena, preparing the house for the visiting relatives and much more. Everyone is in a frenzy as if they will run out of time.
And yet we are not even into the Christmas season yet. It will still be Advent. It is the time for holy longing, for anticipating the arrival of the Word. It is time for a penitential spirit similar to Lent in preparation for the Second and final coming of the Lord (called the Parousia) that Jesus disclosed to his disciples in the Gospel of Matthew on the 34th Sunday of Ordinary time or the Solemnity of Christ the King. The 34th Sunday marks the conclusion of the Liturgical Year of Jesus’ life and ministry.
In his gospel St. John wrote: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.” (Jn 1:1, 9)
Then there is a part in the Christmas liturgy, taken from the Book of Wisdom, that says:
“For while gentle silence enveloped all things,
and night in its swift course was now half gone,
your powerful word leaped from heaven,
from the royal throne…” (Wis 18:14-15)
Without fanfare, without glaring lights and blaring noise, the Word of God was going to enter our world. In St. Luke’s account, he said: “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.’” (Lk: 1:26-31)
Then again, we recall Elijah’s meeting God at the Mt. of Horeb when he fled from Jezebel after slaying all her prophets with his sword. The Lord passed by amid the strong wind, earthquake, and fire: “…but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice…” (1 Kings 19:11-12)
No great entrance, no big parade, no royal pageantry happened in Bethlehem. It is in the midst of the stillness and quietness that the mystery of Christ’s birth was announced. God seems to be telling us that it is not in the hectic or superficial preparation for the event that matters most. He wants us to look deep into our being and ponder how the Word of God can be borne in us. He is inviting us to prepare a sacred space for his coming. We are asked to watch for his Word to take shape in us, to grow, to speak to each one of us about his will and for us to clearly see the path that leads to his kingdom. It is in that quiet sacred space of our hearts, in our unguarded moment, and the seemingly uneventful occasion that the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6) will make his home in us.
But are we still? Or are our spirits into the frenzied and superficial preparation for the event? Advent… the time of great longing and of anticipation… the time to enter the silent space within our hearts and receive him there. For only there, in the womb of our hearts, that we can truly anticipate his birth. And when that birthing happens, then we rejoice and celebrate Christmas. Christ’s Mass has finally dawned on us. (Dolly D. Banzon | Contributor)