Advent asks us to make more room for Christ

varisco_rachel    It is here. The season of Advent is upon us. Now is the time when we wait with joyful expectation for the coming of Christ our King.
    When we typically think of waiting, joy is likely not the first thing to come to mind.  Most times in my own life, waiting tends to feel heavy or burdensome. I am an impatient human being who tends to want my needs and desires fulfilled now.  I would prefer not to wait if I had the choice.
    However, the season of Advent is not one where we are called to focus on ourselves.  It is a season entirely devoted to another, and it is important for us to be reminded during this unique time that we are not alone in our waiting. Jesus waits, too … and he waits a lot more patiently than we do.
    We acknowledge through the gift of faith that Jesus already came into the world once. He was born in a manger, the most humble of places. We also acknowledge that Jesus will come again at the end of time. We know this with certainty because he has promised us, and his word is true.  
    Yet, Jesus is not simply waiting to come at some unforeseen time in the future.  He is waiting to come into the world today, at this very moment. There is one place he wishes to be most of all in the present.  That place is our hearts, and he can only come into them the same way he came into the world on the very first Christmas: by the way of humility.
    Stop for a second and take the time to really think about this: The Lord of all creation could choose to dwell anywhere in the whole universe, and he has chosen your heart! This should leave us in awe.  It is a simple truth, but it is an awesome one that gets far too little of our recognition on a daily basis.
    This is why the season of Advent is so special. It reminds us of how eagerly Christ waits to be united with us in full communion.  It is for this communion that we prepare. As we see in the nativity story, Christ does not come into the world with power and might. Just the same, he will not force his way into your heart. He simply waits for you to invite him there yourself.
    If we humble ourselves and invite him in, Christ shall surely come. All he needs is our “yes.” We see the tremendous power and lasting effect of this one word in the “fiat” of Mary during the Advent season. When God extends the invitation to literally instill his very life within her womb, she does not question or doubt him, as strange as his request might seem.  Rather, out of complete trust, she returns his invitation by saying, “May it be done unto me.”  
    Full of grace and without sin, “no” was not even a thought for the Blessed Mother when it came to the Lord’s plans for her. Unfortunately, “no” is a word our culture is saying too often to God today. In a society all about self-help and self-love, humility is not to be encouraged; it is countercultural.  
    In a way, this is no different from the culture that was present during the time of Christ.  As he was making his way into the world, people heard knocks upon their doors and chose to respond with, “Sorry, we have no room for you here.” Today, Christ knocks upon the doors of our hearts. It is solely up to us to decide whether we will  make room for him there.
    Our goal this Advent season should be to let go of all the things that leave less room in our hearts for Christ to dwell. In order to do this, we need lots of grace. We need to participate in the sacraments. We need to be engaged in lots of prayer and reflection. That is what we are called to during this time.  That is how we prepare for him.  
    If a special guest was coming to stay at your house, you would likely prepare for the visit. You would do some cleaning and make them a bed, at the very least.  If you invited someone important over for dinner, you would set the table and use the good dishes. How much more preparation should we do when inviting the Lord to stay in our hearts for eternity!  It is only suitable.
    This Advent season, we can spend more time preparing our wallets or preparing our hearts. We can choose to focus on the temporary and fleeting moments of happiness provided by material goods that cost us much, or we can choose to focus on the authentic and lasting joy provided by Christ that he already paid the price to give us.
    Advent reminds us how hopeless things once were and how hopeful they now are. By the way we choose to celebrate our Advent, we will tell others what we believe about Jesus. If we humble our hearts to him, we can help transmit the hope he brings us to the rest of the world that remains in such desperate need of it today.  
    Rachel Varisco can be reached at rvarisco@clarionherald.org.

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