Entering Advent I wanted to be able to focus more this season, to really set this time as a time of preparation for the Christ child. While there are a variety of ways that one could prepare, I took time in prayer to find what was right for me this season.
I was reminded of an awesome Pope Francis story. In a book of questions asked by children from all over the world, the Pope was asked, “What was God doing before the world was made?” In Pope Francis’ answer, I found the answer for my focus this Advent.
“Think of it this way: Before creating anything, God loved.
That’s what God was doing: God was loving.”
It hit me like a ton of bricks showing me what I had so naively missed, the very nature of the season held my answer. The holidays are a time of family and friends – a time for love.
In Matthew chapter 25 we read:
‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and
you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked
and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and
you visited me.’ Then the righteous* will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty
and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and
welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you
ill or in prison, and visit you? And the king will say to them in
reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these
least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
While usually we view these words in light of service and charity, my time on the Diocese Urban Plunge mission trip this summer showed me something deeper. While painting houses, mending floorboards, and building ramps we met the needs of those who we served. But the greatest thing we offered our clients was the time spent sitting with them and showing them our love. That was how we truly served God in them that week.
While there are needy, hungry, and thirsty people in our world – and while we should absolutely help them when we can – there are even more people simply needing love. I could argue that it’s everyone. What we are shown in Matthew 25 is that when we love them we are loving Christ.
So my challenge for you this Advent is to join me in being intentional with my love.
Make plans with a friend, just the two of you, to hear each other and be there for each other. Maybe it’s coffee, or Christmas shopping together, or just the movies.
Without causing more stress, makes plans with your family. Maybe you have holiday traditions like a baking day that you can help set up. Maybe you haven’t had a movie or game night in awhile that you can make happen. We’re all rushing around buying presents for our family members this holiday but we’re not actually spending time together – it’s a little weird.
And what can seem like the hardest challenge – be loving toward that family member, coworker, classmate or friend that gets on your last nerve a little. I’m not saying torture you both with forced one on one time. But let the little comments slide, give them the choice of what board game or movie to watch, and grab them a cookie when you are getting one for yourself. They’re Christ too.
Let’s be intentional loving and receiving Christ in others this Advent, so our hearts can be prepared and open even more to receive Christ the Baby on Christmas.