It’s Christmas time, a mad rush that feels like it starts the day after Halloween. As soon as Halloween is over, the days seem to fly by at a faster pace and before you know it, it’s Christmas. In the rush of Christmas shopping, Cyber Monday and Black Friday, holiday parties, booking flights and hotel rooms for holiday travel, today’s gospel from Mark reminds us what these weeks of Advent can also be about. The reading connects the Old and New Testament using verses from Isaiah prophesying the coming of both John the Baptist and Jesus.
I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way.
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,…”
John the Baptist, the messenger, is preparing the way for Jesus, and that is what the Advent season is about, a time to prepare for the return of Christ and to remember the birth of Jesus. It’s hard to remember that when we’re trying to snag the best deal on a TV or iPad in time for it to arrive before Christmas day.
This year in an attempt to prepare for Christmas, I’m using an Advent calendar as a daily reminder of the season, and attending Friday mass. This sudden burst of enthusiasm for Advent also led me to spend an inordinate amount of time shopping online for an Advent wreath. Still, I hope my efforts lead to a more spiritually fruitful month, instead of just a lead up to presents and a family get together, both of which are good things. The season of Advent is another invitation to reflect on our spiritual lives; may we all find a bit of time to hear the voice crying out to us to prepare for and reflect on Jesus.