Beginning yesterday, our churches were dressed in subdued colors – shades of blue and light lavender with some pink woven in. This ambiance signaled the First Sunday of Advent. Unless we go to Mass weekly, unless we light a special set of Advent wreath candles to our homes, unless we have homes festooned with our own touches of blues and light lavender with streams of pink woven in and hold off the merry reds, we will not even know it is Advent – a time of preparation for the celebration of Christ’s coming into the world. The world at large skips Advent. The Christmas rush of shopping, baking, parties and a long list of “to do’s” is happening already. Christmas Carols have been playing in our malls for some time now. We’ll get tired of them soon. Christmas reds and ivy green and twinkling lights distract us from preparing our hearts for Christmas.
The Evangelist John says in the prologue to his Gospel, verse 1.14, that the Word leapt into the world and pitched his tent among us. The Word became human in Jesus, who has loved and cherished us endlessly, undeniably and intensely. So why not emulate Jesus and prepare for Christmas by spending these four weeks cherishing the people of the earth, day by day.
Get out a calendar page for November 28 to December 24. Fill in some days with the name of someone/some group that you will think of, pray for and cherish for the whole day in Jesus’ name. Leave some days blank so that newcomers who enter the theatre of life this month can be included with their story of unexpected pain, success shared, newness, revelation and hope. Reach wide. Jesus came to save the world. He excluded no one. Nor should we.
Here’s a sample week of people to cherish:
November 28 refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean
November 29 school children and their families
November 30 our grandparents and the great lessons we learned from them
December 1 people who are working to make America welcoming for all
December 2 the newest members of our family (babies, newbies through
marriage and friendship)
marriage and friendship)
December 3 the opioid addicted and those who love them
December 4 the deceased in today’s obituaries
The point is not to just remember these people with our thoughts, but to cherish them in our hearts…to hold them close, be with them and for them, as Jesus, the Incarnate Risen One is. God loves each and every person with a tenderness beyond words. God has been and is faithful to us, has and does put aside our sin and knows us for what we are at our very core: redeemed children of an embracing God. To be like God is to cherish all people in our daily lives all year long. We practice this way of being Godlike during this Advent season, as we prepare to celebrate the Word who has leapt into our world and finds himself very much at home among us.
~ Sister Joan Sobala