This week we begin our preparation for the coming of Christ in our hearts on Christmas and hopefully a new beginning for the rest of our life. The Year B Gospels call us to look at our lives to make way for Christ Jesus. With each Gospel posing a different challenge. For the next four weeks, I want to be focused on different ways of looking at our lives.
- To look out
- To look down
- To look up
- To look in
For me, these are the Four Looks of Advent. Please consider joining me in this internal focus during these next four weeks.
Caryn knew these days were coming. It was finally “that morning”; the outside temperature was below freezing. Living in the northern part of the USA usually meant cold days were just beginning and more days like this were inevitable. On this day, she pushed away her covers and dashed to prepare herself for work. Oh yes, on this morning she was cold but she was also happy. Why? Caryn had been looking ahead and now she was prepared for this weather.
Caryn had been looking out for potential problems and for the past weeks she had been making changes so this day would not be a calamity.
First, her car was now parked in the garage and not in her driveway. So, on this first cold morning she did not have to scrape the windows of her car. Next, she was ready for her walk from the parking lot to the office because last week she had her heavy coat cleaned; found her favorite hat and bought new warm gloves. Caryn put these outer garments in a prominent place in her closet – she was ready. As for the car, the fluids were right and it was winterized. Finally, she had been paying close attention to the weather for over a month.
In short, Caryn was prepared. She looked out at the world and saw potential challenges and then made preventive actions “beforehand.”
Looking Out in our Spiritual Lives
This first Sunday in Advent’s Gospel asks us to be vigilant gatekeepers watching for the Lord of the house. As we immerse ourselves in the Word of God, we are challenged to look out for signs telling us of God’s calling to us in our world and in our lives. Like Caryn in the story, we are challenged to make preparations.
Paragraph 4 of Gaudium et spes, the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution On The Church In The Modern World, states. “…the Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel.”
The task of scrutinizing the signs of the times remains today and everyday just as it did when these words were written over 40 years ago. Today, the liturgical rhythm of the Church allows us to look out at these signs as one community during the Advent season. So, are you ready to join your parish, your family and me in finding those signs?
In the story, Caryn looked out at the weather, at her possessions and to others as she embraced the weather change. We can make similar actions in our spiritual journey. What are you looking for in your spiritual journey? Who have you invited to help you “look out” at these signs of our times?
Where should we look? Be careful, our world is made up of evil obstacles that we need to avoid. So, that is the first challenge, to look out at our world in order to see what areas can be sources of difficulty. Start by looking out to where there are proverbial “low hanging branches.” On these branches, are the easiest behaviors to identify and usually the ones that call for the most immediate changes.
Just a few examples:
- Look out at how we spend our time with people who ruin our lives
- Look out at improper sexual relationships
- Look out at stealing software or music
- Look out at our personal selfishness as an area which can cause danger in our daily journey toward Christ to God.
My brothers and sisters lets join in “looking out” to our world. Allow the Holy Spirit to fill our search with graces and power. Make this first week of Advent the initial start to preparing your lives to have the Baby Jesus of the manger come to rest in our hearts.
For Your Reflection
From a Ministry Perspective:
- As you LOOK OUT at the world surrounding those to whom you minister, what signs do you see telling all that God needs to be more present in their world and in your ministry?
- What main area(s) of your personal life do you need to reconcile with Christ to make room in your heart for the Christ Child.
From a Domestic Church Perspective:
- As you LOOK OUT at your Domestic Church, as parent, sibling, widow or single person, what signs do you see telling your family that God needs to be more present in your world and in your Domestic Church?
- What main area(s) of your personal life do you need to reconcile with Christ to make room in your Domestic Church and your heart for the Christ Child.
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