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Browsing Fr. Joel Hastings


Advent gives us a new start

     As we begin our observance of Advent, we are invited to turn our focus to preparing for the coming of Christ. Often, such preparation includes added
emphasis to charitable works on behalf of others who are poor and in need. However, might I invite us in the midst of such goodness and charity to go deeper this Advent than simply preparing for Christmas by doing good to focusing upon this season as a preparing for an encounter with Christ Himself and in growing in personal relationship with Jesus.

     When we consider the actual Christmas event, have we ever considered the “personal relationships” found in the story? Some of these relationships are more obvious than others – such as shepherds who were at first afraid but on seeing the child went away giving praise to God; or the magi who followed the star to the place, offering their gifts to the newborn king. Others are not so obvious, seeing that the Scriptures are relatively silent: like the residents of Bethlehem, who
surely would have come to know about this odd occurrence of a newborn child being laid in a manger (after all, Bethlehem was a small town, and such an event would have likely been the “talk of the town”).

     The affect of the birth of Christ for us may seem plain – that our Savior was born on Christmas. Yet, have we ever really considered that Jesus Christ comes for each and every one of us, individually? Have we allowed the truth of Christmas to become personal, allowing Jesus to enter into our lives more deeply and
perfectly? In short, is Christmas simply a holiday that invites our charity – or is it a renewed encounter with Jesus?

     As we begin Advent, might we open ourselves to Christ’s coming, so that we might have a more personal encounter with him. In practice, we can make this beginning of Advent an opportunity to spend more time in prayer which invites this encounter: meditating on the Gospels; making use of Eucharistic Adoration; and of course, praying at Mass with the recognition that each and every Mass is an encounter with Jesus Christ, really and truly present in the Eucharist. Likewise, we can encounter Jesus in His mercy, making a good confession as a real way to be more fully prepared to meet Him at Christmas.

     May we all take advantage of this Advent to prepare and truly enter into a deeper encounter with Jesus Christ, so that our relationships with Him may grow more deeply personal and perfect.



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