Look In – The Fourth Look of Advent

4th Week of Advent

Our Journey 

As we finish our Advent journey, we are challenged to take a final look deep in our lives.  Our goal is to make a home for the Christ Child.  For these past weeks, I focused on the first three of four different ways of looking at our lives.

For these Advent weeks, we’ve been focusing on four different ways of looking at our lives.

  1. To look out
  2. To look down
  3. To look up
  4. To look in

So, this is week four and we finish our journey by taking a serious look inward.

Story

It was December 24th; Christmas Eve finally arrived for James.  All the shopping was finished; the food was purchased and the house was spotless.  Tomorrow another Christmas would be in the books.  James thought it was amazing how slow every task happened and how fast it now ended.

Was this a memorable Christmas?  Not really.  James thought he could live without Christmas and all the hassle.  Why?  He and his wife Jillian had been fighting for 3 weeks and James was drinking a half bottle of whiskey every night, to get through all of this.

His stress level was through the roof.  As he sat in his car screaming at his wife to hurry because they would miss Midnight Mass, James asked himself, “Was this late Mass even worth it?”  He had to go however, because he was in the choir and he did not want to let his friends think that he was not a team player.

This Christmas Eve, James needed a miracle.  James needed a Savior!

Making Room in our Hearts for Jesus

As with James in the story, Christmas is almost upon us. How are you doing?  Our Catholic Community measures it by the 4th week in Advent.  Our culture measures by the number of shopping days left.  If we had to stop there, it would be a stark contrast.  Let’s look deeper.

Christmas is about the Birth of Christ!  Every year we relive the miracle in Bethlehem.  We are all familiar with the Nativity story.  Most have heard it since we have been children.

I want to focus on the section about having no room in the inn for the Holy Family. We all know that evening in Bethlehem was not the only time that Jesus has been refused room – He has been rejected every day since that miraculous time.

We’ve seen our Lord and Savior rejected in many different ways.  Most often it is not a straight forward denial like Peter did during the Passion or a violent rejection like Nero’s persecutions.  Usually it is understated like when we ignore or prioritize Christ out of our lives.  This conduct is not new; people’s lives have always been busy.  Finding room for Jesus has always been difficult.  What happens most often is the Jesus gets crowded out because of our cluttered lives.  It is not that we have pushed Him out – rather we make other activities a higher priority.

When I am focusing on one of these other priorities it makes it hard for me to participate in the message of Christmas.  It is not something that I usually plan. Sometimes I rush without taking time to make Christ the center of my actions and everything just balloons from there.  My involvement in outstanding activities like family events, Church duties, or helping in many of the Corporal Works of Mercy – can be a distraction from the best.  Jesus is the best!

Can you examine your day and see if you are doing even the simplest things in the name of the Lord?   Basically, it is a matter of focus.  When we give our hearts to the Lord we don’t hold back in the areas especially our daily schedules.

A Final Challenge

So, here we sit in the 4th week of Advent.  Have you given into the crazy marketing world of Christmas in western society?   So this week, our final challenge is to let go of all the distractions in our life in order to discover the Child Jesus of the upcoming Christmas.  Not an easy task but the rewards are eternally joyful.
Here are a three “Stops”…

  1. Take time this year to slow down by saying “No” to a secular event and spending time with your family.
  2. Take time to enter into the joy of the season more fully by having your family serve those in the most need, like visiting a homeless shelter.
  3. Take time to make a recommitment to Christ Child by making every day in the Christmas Season special – all the way to the Baptism of the Lord.

By stopping and taking time with those three ideas, you will give your family the real gift of Christmas – Christ’s love glowing brightly in your heart.

For Your Reflection

From a Ministry Perspective:

  1. As you LOOK IN at the world surrounding those to whom you minister, what specific obstacle do you need to overcome to make Christ burn in the hearts of those to whom you minister?
  2. Where to you need to say “NO” to make Christmas come alive for others?

From a Domestic Church Perspective:

  1. As you LOOK IN at your Domestic Church, as parent, sibling, widow or single person, what specific obstacles do you need to personally overcome to make Christ burn in the hearts of your Domestic Church?
  2. Where do you need to say “NO” to make Christmas come alive for others?

So, my brothers and sisters, look inward and find the final obstacles that keep you from being close to Jesus.  Jesus is coming!

God bless you and your family,
Deacon Tom


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About the Author

Deacon Tom Frankenfield is a Permanent Deacon from the Archdiocese of Omaha who is currently serving the people of Mary Our Queen Parish in Omaha. He is a Spiritual Director, Retreat Master and noted speaker. For fun, he is a storyteller, potter, puppeteer, guitarist and poet. Deacon Tom is married and has three grown children and three amazing grandchildren.

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