From Father Woods
Advent 2016 was the longest it could possibly be – 4 entire weeks since Christmas fell on a Sunday last year. This year Advent is as short as it can possibly be since Christmas Eve falls later in the day of the Fourth Sunday of Advent. The last Advent candle will burn only for the morning Masses and then be quickly put away as Christmas Eve approaches. If we usually feel some pressure as the days of Advent pass swiftly by, then this year we are really going to feel the heat. More than one of us will feel as if there’s too much to do and not enough time to get it done.
In some sense the calendar only changes our perception of time. In reality each month has the same number of days as always, but the length of a season or event can change how we perceive time passing. Many of us go to bed in these days before Christmas exhausted from what we’ ve done, but with a long list awaiting us when we rise the next morning.
There’s also the added pressure that things have to be perfect. It just doesn’t seem like Christmas if we take shortcuts in our decorating, baking or gift giving. Some of us even feel we have to “out do” ourselves each year. With just 3 full weeks of Advent, this will be hard to accomplish.
But herein lies the truth that Advent teaches us if the season of Advent prepares us for Christmas, then all of life is an Advent that prepares us for the ultimate Christmas Day when we meet Jesus face to face. Our lives are never long enough. We never get done all the things we want. Sometimes we are so busy thinking of what needs to be done we don’t look back to see what God has accomplished for us and through us. For many people the Advent candles of life seem to be burning too fast and there don’t seem to be enough of them.
Life should be lived to the fullest in preparation for eternal life with God in Heaven – talk about an everlasting Christmas Day! If throughout life we have prepared well, then Heaven is our destiny and none of us will be disappointed. Too many people work so hard during Advent only to rob themselves of the experience of Christmas. By Christmas night they are taking the tree down and moving on. This makes no sense at all! The Christmas Season (and yes, it is a Season not just a Day) is meant to be enjoyed in all its wonder. If it isn’t, then why bother with all the preparation?
There is so much to be learned and lived during this short Advent Season. Living Advent well can teach us a few lessons about how we should live our lives. Living life well puts the Season of Advent in perspective. We all have the time that is allotted to us. We should use that time wisely to the best of our ability. Remember: it’s all about Jesus. It’s not really the celebration of a “birthday”. This time of year is all about preparing for and celebrating a mystery: God becomes man on Christmas night. Keep the mystery in Advent and Christmas and the next six weeks will be the most wonderful time of the year indeed!