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Browsing Fr. Joel Hastings

Extending Christmas

Extending Christmas to every day.

     As today’s bulletin is that for the Fourth Sunday of Advent that also happens this year to be Christmas eve, I offer early though timely wishes for all to have a blessed Christmas.

     Truly this final Sunday of our Advent preparation is filled with anticipation:  the prayers and scriptures for Mass speak of proximate events that occurred before the birth of Jesus Christ; our own hearts are likely filled with a sense of the nearness of Christmas day; certainly children and young people, for whom Christmas vacation from school has now begun, can sense the nearness.

     Mindful of our anticipation (which I pray is not anxious, but truly hopeful), I want to invite deeper reflection on the Christmas story toward extending the joy and truth of Christmas beyond these next two days. In particular, I would like to connect the Advent preparation for Christ’s coming to the realization of Christ in our midst, and how we can live both of these realities in every day and every circumstance of life in this world.

     We are aware of the twofold sense of Advent preparation: to prepare for the birth of the Lord and to prepare for the glorious second coming of Christ. Likewise, we know and understand the story of Christmas: that God is born of Mary. The Church in her holy wisdom recognizes the importance of us celebrating these (and all) mysteries of faith regularly – hence, yearly. For each time we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, we are invited to be renewed in our joy that Jesus has come to dwell among us in our human nature, and that His coming is the beginning of the fulfillment of his saving work. Likewise, through each celebration of the whole season of Advent and the feasts that accompany the Christmas mystery, namely the Epiphany and Baptism of the Lord, we are able to be renewed in our sense of how Jesus has already accomplished salvation, with our true way of life being expressed in our preparation for His glorious return. All of these significant moments, while we may designate a day or set of days to celebrate them in a very open way, have staying power beyond their particular days, unto the whole of our lives.

     Consider this truth: that Jesus’ coming in the flesh on Christmas forever changed human history, as God himself took on human nature, elevating the meaning and
dignity of being human beyond any other time, even that of Adam and Eve
, by His willing acceptance of the fullness of our humanity. Likewise, in the call to prepare for the Lord, we continue to prepare for the second coming by always living in the reality of the first coming – that God is already here and promises to remain with us. These truths are not for one day a year; they are for every day, every moment (good or bad, joyful or sorrowful, in healing or in pain), as God is here, in the person of Jesus Christ, through it all.

     Hence, as we are now within hours of celebrating Christmas, I pray that the joy of this holy day and holy season would be extended to every moment of your life – that you would be always receptive to the presence of God in the person of Jesus Christ, no matter what is happening in life, and always prepared to receive it anew – for this is how we live Advent and Christmas in every moment of life.


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