Q: “Marketing is everything,” say the business executives of our country. How about preparing some ads for the season of Advent?
A: OK! Here are four one-minute commercials for the coming Advent Sundays.
First Sunday of Advent: Dec. 3
No parades for Jesus!
“You are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:7).
When the Apollo 11 moon-walkers were welcomed home by cheering thousands in New York City on August 13, 1969, miles of ticker-tape and tons of confetti fluttered down upon them. Jesus Christ, when he returns in glory, will not look for a welcome with a ticker-tape parade; he will look for hearts well-prepared to receive him.
As we begin the season of Advent, we should think about the ways in which we can welcome Jesus Christ into our heart. If we look for fearful signs in the sky as the most striking sign of Christ’s coming, then we run the risk of missing Christ in all the ways he comes to us every day.
Christ comes to us in our moments of joy and sadness; he comes to us in the person of those who care for us and in the person of those who need our care. Jesus has told us to watch and pray for his coming — not only at the end of time but every day of our lives. Advent is a special time of watching and praying.
Second Sunday of Advent: Dec. 10
Wild John the Baptist!
“Be eager to be found without spot or blame before him, at peace” (2 Peter 3:14).
John the Baptist must have seemed to be a wild man! He made his appearance in the desert clothed in a rough camel skin, ate grasshoppers and wild honey (not because he belonged to Overeaters’ Anonymous!) and tried to recruit people for the greatest road-building job of all time: building a road for the long-awaited Messiah into the hearts of all humankind.
During this Advent season, we continue to build that road when we fill the valleys of our shallowness with Christ’s love and when we level the mountains of our pride with Christ’s humility. We don’t need a bulldozer to do this, but we do need God’s grace of repentance and change-of-heart.
John the Baptist still calls us to remove everything that separates us from God and from our neighbor. We don’t even have to go off to the desert to do this; our own families and our own parish are good places to start the road-building for the Lord.
Third Sunday of Advent: Dec. 17
“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances, give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:16).
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” says Juliet in Shakespeare’s play about her and her boyfriend, Romeo. But no other Sunday in Advent is quite as joyful as the third Sunday, the “Rose Sunday.” The nearness of our Christmas celebration gives us a rosy glow which may even be reflected in the Mass vestments. How fitting it would be to wear a pink rose or pink clothing this Sunday!
Part of our joy stems from the fact that God did not give up on gardening after what happened in Eden. For many centuries before Christ, God had been preparing a rose garden much greater than the one at the White House. Through the preaching of his prophets, God had been preparing the hearts of God’s chosen people for the appearance of a very special Rose: Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus. “Mystical Rose, pray for us!”
Fourth Sunday of Advent: Dec. 24
“The mystery kept secret for long ages but now manifested … and made known to all nations” (Romans 16:25, 26).
Scene 1: King David’s palace in Jerusalem. David wants to build a house for the Lord, but the Lord wants to build a house — that is, a family for David.
Scene 2: Mary’s home in Nazareth. Through her “yes” to God, Mary becomes the dwelling place of the Lord.
Scene 3: Your home. God is asking you to prepare your heart for the coming of the beloved Son, Jesus Christ, so that your holiness will bring you to a holy Christmas. Are you ready?
Merry Christmas to you all!
Benedictine Father Michael Kwatera, a monk of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, serves as the abbey’s director of liturgy. Please send your questions on liturgy to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at St. John’s Abbey, P.O. Box 2015, Collegeville, MN 56321-2015.