Put Christmas in your heart
November 29, 2010
by Father Thomas Balluff, Church of St. Mary of Czestochowa, Delano

Advent is here – are we ready for what is on its way – or should I say, are we prepared for who is coming to visit?

“Behold, people of Zion, the Lord will come to save the nations. The Lord in His glory will make His voice heard and fill your hearts with joy.” (Isaiah 30:19,30)

The Savior is about to arrive, and nobody seems to be noticing anything. The world continues on, completely oblivious.

I guess many of us will put up lights to decorate our homes inside and out. We might have a tree with presents underneath wrapped for the kids, a statue of Santa Claus and his reindeer nearby.

There will be lots of sales, shopping, advertising everywhere. Families will come together to eat huge meals. They will talk about all sorts of things.

There will be those who are deeply saddened, perhaps depressed, during the holidays because of family problems, or maybe not having any family at all. Many will enjoy being with their parents, children, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, nieces and nephews.

But, do we really, I mean really, understand what the Advent season is for, and then, Christmas to follow?

Advent is the season in the church that calls us into a certain waiting. We are called to get ready, to prepare ourselves for what is coming.

The anniversary of the greatest event ever to happen in the history of humanity is about to occur for the 2011th time. God is about to be born, he will come as a little baby into our world. God is about to enter into time and place to be with His children.

Are we ready for this incredible anniversary and the celebration of the love God manifests in the person of Jesus Christ?

Don’t get me wrong – I love that we give presents to each other at Christmas, that we spend time with our families, that we eat great food and relax. But do we know why we are doing it, and is it because we love God and honor and revere Him so much that we stop everything else in order to celebrate in these ways?

Advent must be about God. Christmas has to be about God. Everything we do, if it is worth doing, must be about God. Our very being is a gift from God, the author of all life and the author of all that is good.

The world has largely lost its way. It is in the midst of a great darkness, just as it was in Jesus’ time. But we can find ourselves again with some hard work. We can regain the spirit of what Christmas is all about if we are willing to do what is necessary.

A good beginning would be to really worship and praise our God from our hearts, and to really mean it. Begin to develop some good habits of prayer, motivate ourselves to be kind, gentle and patient to those around us, to act with charity and love without anyone seeing us do it – all would be a good start. To treat our husband and wife and family with a deep respect, and our co-workers with openness and honesty, all would begin to change things around us.

This year, let us develop a momentum leading in the right direction – back to a love of God and neighbor that will last us a lifetime. Rather, that will last us an eternity.

This world was meant to be a paradise. If it was up to God, it still would be. We are the ones who have made it into what it has become. By the grace of God, we can turn it around back into what it was supposed to be.

Why not? We live only for a short time in this world – let’s make it count!