Monday, December 10, 2012

Are You Running Toward Christ Yet?

For the past two Sundays, in the Collect prayers of the new Roman Missal, we have heard that we are to be  in a great hurry to meet Christ at his coming. There is no mistaking the message when it appears two weeks in a row:

Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God,
the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ
with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand,
they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.
 (First Sunday of Advent)

Almighty and merciful God,
may no earthly undertaking hinder those
who set out in haste to meet your Son
but may our learning of heavenly wisdom
gain us admittance to his company.
 (Second Sunday of Advent)

So, the obvious question this Advent how eager are you?  Are you running forth to meet Jesus?  Are you setting out in haste to meet him?  If not, what is holding you back?

Advent is a call to re-prioritize our lives - to allow ourselves to be transformed by the Eucharist to become people worthy to meet Christ.  The Prayer After Communion for both weeks has suggested what that means:

...for even now as we walk amid passing things,
you teach us by them to love the things of heaven 
and to hold fast to what endures. (First Sunday of Advent)

...that through our partaking in this mystery
you may teach us to judge wisely the things of earth
and hold firm to the things of heaven. (Second Sunday of Advent)

In this invitation to God to transform us, we ask to learn how to let go of earthly things and give greater value to eternal things. Interestingly, we are taught in two ways to appreciate the things of heaven - by the earthly, passing things themselves, and through the Eucharist.  We learn what is most valuable by realizing what is not - and the Eucharist helps us do that.

Next Sunday, (often called Gaudete because of the emphasis on joy) we celebrate "with solemn worship and glad rejoicing" "the joys of so great a salvation" that Christ brought us through his Incarnation. It will be easier to do that if we allow ourselves to value the things of heaven more than the "priorities" of the busy December that the world looks at as the "Holiday Season."  

We know what they world expects of us this time of year - to spend money and time to buy the "perfect" gifts, prepare the "perfect" holiday party or dinner... What does Jesus expect? That we prepare ourselves to celebrate his Incarnation and make ourselves more "perfect" to meet him at his coming - as a baby in Bethlehem, as a King at the end of time. We do this best by preparing room for him in our hearts today. For most of us, that means something else has to move over. Teach us, Lord, to prioritize our lives to do just that.