Father Chet, December 2004
God comes to us in many ways. If we are being open, we will be ready to receive and respond to each of these comings.
Scripture gives us two past comings of Jesus: at Bethlehem as an infant and at the River Jordan where Jesus is baptized before beginning his public ministry.
We have two future comings of Jesus in our lives: at the moment of our death and at the end of time.
And there are many present comings of Jesus, Jesus coming this day. Among them are prayer, the Eucharist, the Bible, community, the Church, neighbor, the poor and our enemies.
During Advent and Christmas, we meditate on Jesus coming to us as an infant in the stable of Bethlehem. We reflect on how Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and wise men opened their hearts in love to the infant Jesus. We strive to being open, to having the same dispositions of love as we kneel before the Christmas creche.
Yet the coming of Jesus at Bethlehem is an event that happened over 2,000 years ago. For us today, the present comings of God and Jesus are the most important and necessary ways we need to prepare for the future comings of God.
Being Open to Prayer
Jesus comes to us each time we open our minds and hearts in prayer. When we pray, and especially when we pray together as a community, Jesus comes. “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt 18:20).
We also believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and in the words of Sacred Scripture. And we hold that the Church is the Body of Christ here upon earth.
Being open means seeing Jesus in the poor. “What you do or fail to do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me” (Matt 25:31-46).
Finally, Jesus identifies himself with our enemies and commands us to be all-inclusive in our love of others (Matt 5:44-48).
Our time on earth is a preparation for the final coming of Jesus at the moment of our death and at the end of time. We hear from those who have had after-death experiences encountering the risen Lord. Jesus asks of them: “How have you grown in wisdom? How have you loved?”
The two qualities we need most when Jesus comes to us at the moment of death are wisdom and love. All of our lives on earth are a preparation for that final moment.
Advent is a time to prepare for all the present and future comings of God. Learn from the examples of Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, the shepherds, and the wise men.
God bless you and Merry Christmas!