Advent is a time to prepare your heart for Jesus’ coming at Christmas, as well as to prepare others around you to receive Him as their Savior. Especially with the non-Catholics and non-Christians in your life, how can you use this season of grace to help others open themselves up to the freedom and joy found in the Word, Jesus Christ?
We invite you to watch Father’s video, then prayerfully read the Gospel and reflection. We pray that this might help you in your apostolate, your family, your classroom, or personally… to prepare for and more deeply experience Sunday’s Mass, and to better integrate the Sacrament and the readings into your daily life.
5 ways to prepare the way of the Lord
1. Empathetic listening and accompanying
Jesus came to set captives free, to set hearts free. We can do that for people in our lives when we accompany and listen to people – spending time with them.
2. Rejoice in the good. Build people up.
Who needs building up? Who is doing good things, needs someone to help them see joy, even if it’s not explicitly Catholic? Who needs your influence to use the good in their life to connect better to God?
3. Pray without ceasing
When we ourselves are people of constant conversion, this becomes visible and attractive to the others around us.
4. Testify to the light
Speak and name grace in our lives and in others. Point to virtuous living… even if not explicitly Christian. Help people recognize the good by naming it.
5. Be the voice and let Christ be the Word.
John the Baptist was the voice. Jesus was and IS the Word – Christ within.
(1) A reading from the Book of Isaiah (61:1-2a, 10-11)
The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God.
I rejoice heartily in the LORD, in my God is the joy of my soul; for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation and wrapped me in a mantle of justice, like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem, like a bride bedecked with her jewels. As the earth brings forth its plants, and a garden makes its growth spring up, so will the Lord GOD make justice and praise spring up before all the nations.
The Word of the Lord
(2) A reading from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians (5:16-24)
Brothers and sisters: Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil.
May the God of peace make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it.
The Word of the Lord
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John (1:6-8, 19-28)
A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.
And this is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, “Who are you?” He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Christ.” So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?” He said: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of the Lord,'” as Isaiah the prophet said.” Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing
The Gospel of the Lord
1. Find a quiet, solitary place and spend some quiet time in prayer this week, creating silence amidst the busyness of the season. Ask the Lord to help you make space for him and to be patient with that space and quiet in this special time of waiting before Christmas.
2. In your prayer, consider the people in your life who need help in preparing for Christ’s birth, or for His presence at all in their lives. Maybe it’s already obvious who needs particular help. If not, ask the Lord and Our Lady to reveal to you the individuals and interactions where you can be the best witness and listener… who needs your time, patience and gentleness… who needs help to celebrate the good in their lives?
3. Ask Jesus and Mary to give you holy boldness in your life, that you could be more like John the Baptist – the voice for God’s Word. Where are you too timid? Where do you miss opportunities to speak Christ’s liberating Word into the world and into the hearts and minds of those you come in contact with? Resolve to listen to Him and be open to how you might do a better job at this, using your own unique gifts.
Follow Fr. VanHeusen at http://ianvanheusen.com
Photo credit: Warren Wong / unsplash
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