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Meet Jesus again this Advent

by Msgr. Jose H. Gomez
Nativity scene concept: Silhouette pregnant Mary and Joseph with a donkey on star of cross background

With each Advent, it is like we begin our Christian lives anew as we await the coming of Jesus.

Of course, we know him and love him, and we have been his followers for years, trying to live by his teachings, praying and worshipping as he taught us to. Yet the Church gives us this holy season every year for us to meet him again and to encourage us to grow deeper in our living relationship with him.

Our lives are a mystery, hidden with Christ in God, as St. Paul said. Advent invites us to reflect on this mystery, to remember that we matter more than we could imagine, that we have been made out of the Creator’s loving purposes and are part of his mysterious plan for creation.

God made each of us in his image, out of love, to be his children. But that image is distorted by the original sin of Adam and Eve, which darkened in us the glory that God intended.

This is the “why” of the Incarnation, the meaning of his coming that we await in Advent.

Jesus comes, sent by his Father to be born in the likeness of our sinful humanity. He is one with God, the image of the invisible God, but at the same time, he is also a man among us.

He is the “new Adam,” who shows us who we are made to be in the beginning. He comes as God’s Son to share in our life and he dies to free us from sin and give us the power to live as sons and daughters of God.

Jesus changes everything, giving our human lives a new direction and new possibilities. Answering his call to follow him, we enter into his life in baptism, and we commit ourselves to a life of ongoing conversion from our old ways and old habits to become a new creation in Christ.

By his grace in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist, we are slowly being changed, “conforming” ourselves to his image, being renewed in the image of the One who created us.

This is the whole story. In Jesus, our lives on earth become a way of love and a pathway to heaven, as we share in his promise of eternal life, following him along with our families and loved ones in the Church.  

The challenge we have is to really believe this when our daily lives are taken up with so many demands and concerns: making a living, carrying out our duties, caring for our loved ones.

This is why Advent is important. Advent turns our eyes once again to the true “center” of our lives: Jesus and our living relationship with him.

The saints teach us that to grow in that relationship, we need to meditate on the life of Christ, so we always have in our minds the scenes from his life, the words of his teaching.

So, it is important for us to build time into our daily lives to “meet” Jesus in the Gospels. One easy way to do that is to make a few minutes to read the Gospel passage that the Church assigns for each day of the year.

One option is to subscribe to the free email service from DailyGospel.org. What I like about this is that they send the Gospel for each day along with a reflection on the Gospel that is drawn from the writings of the Church Fathers, the saints, or the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” or other Church teaching documents. The service is offered in a variety of languages, and I find that it encourages lectio divina.

That is the most important thing: to read the Gospels with prayer, always asking the Holy Spirit to guide you.

Read the passage slowly; pay attention to the little details, letting our Lord’s words and actions sink in. Meditate on what you read. What stands out in the reading? Is it one of the characters, a certain word, a movement, or a sign?

Read and read again. Ask the Lord to tell you what he wants you to hear. Then, before concluding your reading, just be silent, contemplate, “rest” in the Lord.

Remember, we are not reading to try to learn something. We are reading to become someone. We want to know: How does he live, how does he treat other people, how does he think and act and respond to situations, how does he handle conflicts?

Our goal in reading the Gospels every day is to imitate Jesus, to love him more, and to have the “mind of Christ,” seeing the world as Jesus sees, finding him present always in our lives.

Pray for me this week and I will pray for you.

And let us ask the Blessed Virgin to help us to have a new desire to meet Jesus in the Gospels during these weeks of Advent.

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