Dearly beloved in Christ, Happy New Liturgical Year. We are grateful to God for giving us another liturgical year which begins today with Advent.

Advent is the season of intense preparation for the celebration of Christmas, that is the birth of Christ on 25 December. Advent has two sections: the first section  (from the First Sunday of Advent to 16 December) dwells on the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The readings for this section draw our attention towards Christ's final coming in glory at the end of time. The second section (from  17 to 24 December) emphasizes the immediate preparation for Christmas. It is just a four week preparation my dear brothers and sisters. Thus, if you have not started making arrangements, you are seriously missing out.

I know that in Nigeria, those who live outside of their hometowns are planning when to travel home. Market men and women are getting ready to increase prices or cause artificial scarcity of goods which in itself is evil. Transporters are warming up to increase the fare which also is another evil. Families are going shopping. Some wise people buy the things they need now than wait till when an artificial scarcity is created. This is just a material preparation for Christmas which is important but not necessary. The necessary preparation which we often neglect is the spiritual preparation. If Christ is not born anew in your life, then your Christmas is a mere corruption; a waste of time and money as well as opportunity for even greater crises. Without a renewal of our Christianity, without a deeper resolve to walk away from the darkness of sin, without allowing the baby Jesus affect our character and conduct, then Christmas is just another calendar event that comes and goes. And it is not surprising that even among Christians, Christmas season provides an opportunity for further increase in sin all in the name of celebrating the birth of Jesus; a time that many of us Christians engage in late night parties, carousing, drinking competitions, over-feeding, indecency, fornication, adultery, theft, lying to mention but a few.

The questions are: how are we to prepare spiritually for Christmas at this season of Advent? What will our  inner attitudes be in this advent?

The readings of today give us two powerful guides on how to prepare spiritually for the two" comings" of the Lord. The first guide is watchfulness. Recalling that we now live in a world where so many things take the whole of our attention thus, making us to lose sight of what really matters namely our salvation ("for salvation is nearer to us now then when we first believed" said the second reading from Romans); recalling too that some of us now live our Christian life in a superficial way thus making our previous Christmas preparations and celebrations to end up in revelling and drunkenness, in debauchery (corruption) and licentiousness (wastefulness), in quarrelling and jealousy, we are now called to keep the right watch. We are called to be watchful by being alert in the spirit; alert to misconducts, alert to works of darkness, alert to temptations, alert to spiritual laziness such as forgetting to pray, alert to knowing when and how one begins to move towards sin, alert to hardness of heart, alert to knowing when the thief (Satan) is about to come into your heart and suggest something evil. We are called to be watchful, to open our eyes and to see many ways in which the Lord wants to touch our life.

The second guide is the capacity to recognize the Lord who comes to us. The First reading says: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths."  The Psalmist also says, "let us go to the house of the Lord." There in the house of God, you will learn how to walk in the light of the Lord. There in the house of God, through his word, sacraments, other people and events, he will make his presence felt in your daily life.  Recognizing his presence leads us to welcome him with joy at Christmas. My dear brothers and sisters as the second reading says, "it is full time now for you to wake from sleep." The Gospel concludes it by saying "You must be ready, for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect." Are you really ready? Are you truly preparing? I trust you and I love you all.

Joomla templates by a4joomla