by Kathy Keary, Co-director of Precious Blood Companions
Madonna Preziossimo Sangue copyImagine you have just received word that Jesus is coming to town and planning to stay at your house. Emotions are mixed. You might be flabbergasted that you will come face to face with such an awesome figure and extremely honored he has chosen your house. Panic may set in as you try to make sure everything is absolutely perfect. Out goes all the clutter you have been meaning to deal with for a very long time. You stock the fridge with all the things you think he would like. You make sure your home is comfortable and fit for a king.
Advent is a time of preparation before we commemorate the birth of Jesus: we celebrate the hope we hold in the second coming, and rejoice that God is our Emmanuel. It’s a time to take a close look at our lives to make sure our hearts are ready for the Christ child to be born within us once again. A thorough examination of conscience is in order. Are there any relationships in my life that are bruised or broken? How shall I go about mending those hurts? Am I setting aside time to spend with the Lord in prayer? Am I meeting him on a regular basis as I reach out to those who need a helping hand? If someone looked at my checkbook and my calendar, would it be evident that I am a follower of Jesus? What is the clutter in my life that God is asking me to eliminate? Perhaps there are habits that need to be thrown to the wind or resentment or bitterness that needs to be released.
After we weed the garden of our hearts to free ourselves of all that clings to the dark, it is time to work on creating an atmosphere suitable for the Christ child to rest his head. To thrive, he will need a peaceful, loving atmosphere. Scripture tells us Jesus would routinely break away from the crowd and commune with his Father in solitude. Are we taking ample time to just be with our God? After his alone time with the Father, Jesus would gather with his apostles and go from town to town ministering to the people, sharing God’s love with all those they encountered. Are we following in the footsteps of Jesus? It is a known reality that the more we love, the bigger our capacity for love becomes, and our comfort zones expand as we venture further and further away from our home to serve the common good. Am I actively growing in my capacity to love and widening my comfort zone to bring the Good News to our sisters and brothers near and far?
When December 25 rolls around, will I be ready to welcome the Christ Child into my heart, confident that he will find peace and love within? You may ask, “What about the rest of the year?” Christ is seeking a place in our heart 365 days a year. So our Advent preparation is not just for one day. It is for a lifetime of dwelling in the peace and love of the living God who wants nothing more than to make his home in us.
As a Precious Blood community, we view this season through a special lens. Gasper’s Madonna speaks volumes of the treasure we enjoy. Mary is holding the Christ Child and the infant is holding out the chalice. Their tender gaze invites us into the mystery of this cup. Even though we know of the anguish contained in this holy vessel, the joy in their eyes speaks of the transforming power of the gift Jesus offers. During this time of Advent, we are preparing ourselves to consume this sacred mystery. Jesus humbles himself, coming to us as an innocent child, which doesn’t for one minute make us lose sight of his great sacrifice of love. So we will not only be welcoming an infant; we are preparing our hearts to take in all that is offered in the Paschal Mystery.
Undoubtedly, Jesus is coming. Let’s knock down the cobwebs, polish the silver, stock the fridge and be sure all is in order to welcome the Christ Child, not only during this sacred season but each and every day that follows.