One of the joyful moments I experience is giving church tours to the first graders in our parish Religious Education Program. They come into the church one or two classes at a time and Fr. Abraham, Fr. Mike, and I give the tours. One of the things I show them is the different colors of the vestments the priest wears and what those colors mean. First I show them the purple vestment and explain that this color indicates we are at a time where we are getting ready for a special celebration. Since we just completed the tours they quickly come to see that we are getting ready for Christmas, getting ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Thanksgiving is over and Black Friday has come and gone. Christmas is still 27 days away. There are certainly many things on our minds that we will do to prepare for Christmas. But before we even think about things we will do to get ready for Christmas, it is good to look at all that God has done to prepare to come into our world in Jesus. In the first reading at Mass today (Jeremiah 33L14-16) we have these words: “The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah. In those days, in that time, I will raise up for David a just shoot; he shall do what is right and just in the land. In those days Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure; this is what they shall call her: “The LORD our justice.” These words are a follow up to Genesis 3:15 where as soon as Adam and Eve give in to the temptation of the devil, God promises to send someone to crush the power of the devil. We know that someone is God Himself in the person of Jesus.
Jesus has come and gone and there is still much in our world and in our lives that is the result of evil, evil committed by human beings. What happened? Are the promises of God unfulfilled or are we still waiting? Jesus has come and gone in His human body but He is still among us today. All we have to do is open our minds and hearts and let Him in. The best way we can prepare for Christmas is to take the presence of Jesus in our lives seriously. Take some time to pray and reflect on the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. No matter how often we pray and meditate on these Joyful Mysteries, Mary never stops listening and opening our minds and hearts to her faith and the presence of Her Son Jesus in our lives. We buy and receive gifts, send and receive cards, go to and host Christmas gatherings. But these are only actions that point beyond themselves to what and who is the true gift of Christmas: Jesus. He is always ready to welcome us into His presence and joyfully accepts our invitation to welcome Him into our presence. Through the Eucharist, every day is an opportunity to literally welcome Jesus Himself into our very bodies.
I encourage you pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary reflecting on how the Annunciation shows Mary’s openness to God and His Way, the same openness that makes our lives full when we say, “Let it be done to me as you say,” In the Visitation we see how the joy of Jesus’ presence in Mary was seen in the joy her presence brought to Elizabeth. Can we see Jesus in our hearts with the people we live with and encounter everyday? The Birth of Jesus enabled Mary to hold Jesus in her arms. How good it is when we embrace those in our presence with the love, hope, and joy of Jesus. At the Presentation Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple. In Holy Communion Jesus presents Himself to us. How welcoming are we? Jesus was Found the Temple by Joseph and Mary. Every time we enter our church or any church building we encounter the same Jesus. Do people encounter Jesus in our words, thoughts, and deeds?
Hail, Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.