“For salvation is nearer to us now. Let us then cast off the works of darkness, let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in revelling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Romans 13:11-14)
It is sad to note that many do not understand the essence of Christmas. Even amongst Christians, the whole idea of Christmas is a time for holiday; a time to catch fun, a time for excessive drinking, immorality, reckless driving, shooting knock-outs and so on. Very often Christ is completely missing from our Christmas celebration and we end up becoming spiritually worse than ever.
Perhaps, this has been your situation for these past years, God is especially appealing to you to make this year’s Christmas different. Forget about trying to catch fun and try to catch Jesus like Zacchaeus did. Make efforts to touch Jesus like the woman with the issue of blood not minding the crowd who were simply thronging around Jesus in the name of following Him. As Jesus took flesh in Mary’s womb, the season of Advent provides an opportunity for us to make Christ take flesh once again in our own lives. To achieve this, our readings today provide some guidelines:
1. It is Time to Cast Away the Works of Darkness.
In our first reading today, we hear the Prophet Isaiah admonishing us: “O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” St. Paul takes off from there in our second reading saying: “You know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep… the night is far gone, let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light.” St. Paul explains: No more drunkenness, no more licentiousness (anything goes), no more quarrelling, no more jealousy, no more provision for the flesh etc.
It is a serious contradiction that in the name of celebrating Jesus the light of the world, we Christians now engage in works of darkness. You do not celebrate Jesus by committing sin, you only crucify Him. Do not be surprised when you hear people preaching against Christmas, saying it is wrong to celebrate it. Why would anyone condemn the celebration of Christmas? It is because the level of sinfulness in our society increases during this period.
2. It is Time To Forgive, Reconcile and Make Peace.
Amongst the items St. Paul mentions as a work of darkness is quarrelling. This is not a time for quarrelling and fighting. As the Prophet Isaiah says: “they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” As a new liturgical year begins today and the calendar year gradually comes to an end, there is just no better time to reconcile and mend fences. Have you been keeping malice with someone? How do you expect Christ to be born into a bitter heart? How do you hope to celebrate Christmas in unforgiveness?
In Christmas, we celebrate the love of God towards a people who were so unworthy of that love. It was while we were still sinners that God sent His Son Jesus to die for us (Romans 5:8). Christmas is a time to show love to those completely unworthy of your love. It is not a time to fight wars or to revenge on wrongs done in the past. Christmas is a time to make peace because Jesus whom we are celebrating is the Prince of Peace.
3. It is Time to Watch and Pray (Spiritual Alertness).
In our Gospel passage, Jesus says: “Watch, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” Being watchful is a figure of speech that means: to be alert in the spirit; alert to temptations, alert to spiritual laziness. The Psalmist prays: “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not turn my heart to any evil.” (Psalm 141:3-4). The book of Proverbs 4:23 hits the nail on the head when it says: “Guard your heart with all vigilance, for out of it proceeds the wellsprings of life.” Being watchful is guarding your heart so that no evil thought can enter and dwell there.
As St. Peter tells us “Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion, your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith.” (1st Peter 5:8-9). The key to being alert is prayerfulness. Advent is a time to increase and deepen our prayer lives. The more time we allocate to God daily, the more spiritually alert we become. A heart that does not create time for God is like an abandoned building which becomes a home for grasses and other creatures. To watch is to pray. How else will Christ be born again in our hearts if we do not pray?
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, make my heart a ready temple for you this Christmas. Amen.
Happy Sunday. Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. Bible Study: Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 122, Romans 13:11-14 and Matthew 24:37-44).