Zechariah his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied, saying: “You, my child, will be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Here are few thoughts to fill this moment on the eve of Christ’s birth.
What would Christmas be like without Christ? Meaningless. In fact, everything would be meaningless. A compass without a terrestrial north or south or east or west would be pointless. A watch without arms would be useless. A life without God would be hopeless.
A Christmas without Christ would be a never ending Advent!
Yesterday, I spoke to a young lady who lives an eternal Advent. After years of addictions, after years of abuse, she is finally coming home for Christmas – literally and maybe even spiritually. “I searched and searched throughout my life for something better than God. I wanted to prove my parents wrong. I thought I knew it better than they. I thought I knew it all. I looked for happiness, I looked for fun. I looked for friends because I looked for love. All I found was misery and sadness.” If only I would allow the Lord to be found! My tears would dry; my smile would return. My life would be found; my sins would be lost.
Advent is magical because it comes to an end. The Magi find their King. Their journey has an ending, a happy ending. An Advent without Christmas is worse than the worst imaginable joke! It is like being told that there is a surprise but no surprise ever comes. It is like a child waiting for gifts that never arrive, or a young lady who waits and waits but never hears, “Will you marry me!”
John’s very existence was dependent upon the Lord. You, my child, will be called the prophet of the Most High...You, my child, will go before the Lord to prepare his way…The Lord guides our feet. The Lord shines in our darkest hours…The Lord gives his people knowledge and forgiveness. Christ is better than a compass; He is the sun. He rises from the East, no ifs ands or buts. He rises and I wake up. He determines the day, the night, the hour and the season. I live through Him. He shines, I see. He is the sea, I navigate. He is the rock, I stand on Him. He points, I follow. He walks me through all of life’s long sequences. Advent is holy because Christ awaits us.
Is this true for only Zechariah? Not at all. His canticle is my song. This evening I celebrated the ninth anniversary of my priestly ordination. I cannot even begin to express in words the joy that is in my heart for this marvelous and mysterious vocation! The Lord has been kind and merciful to me. He has given me the singular privilege to lift Him up, every single day, on the altar, in the Eucharist. He has given me the grace, the honor to forgive sins in His name. He has blessed me beyond belief to minister in his name to those who are suffering and dying. I thank God for having called me. I thank God for the continual courage and the strength to follow Him. I thank God for sending me, like one of his apostles, to enter into the lives of His people.
Christmas is fast approaching. May the Lord continue to be in Christmas, and may He find us ready and willing for Him to enter into the inn of our heart, mind, body and soul.