On this Second Sunday of Advent, our second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans encourages us to: “Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God.” And how does Christ welcome you? With unconditional love!
This is the essence of our Christian life; a vital part of Christmas time and ALL Christian time. It really has the power to transform our lives and the lives of those who experience it through us. For example, don’t welcome someone for what they can do for you or only if they are going to meet your expectations. Welcome them unconditionally, “for the glory of God.” This might involve just the opposite of what we often do. What if we welcomed them for what WE can do for THEM? Or even suffer humiliation patiently like Jesus when they don’t meet our expectations. That’s unconditional love!
This Christian hospitality, if you will, is a way for us to answer the call of John the Baptist, from our Gospel. His words apply just as much to us today as they did to the people awaiting the Savior’s coming two thousand years ago. John says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” And he quotes the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” There is a definite connection between repentance and being welcoming.
So how can we do this? We can make an “examination of conscience” a daily part of our prayers, thanking God for the times we said “yes” to Him, and asking forgiveness for the times we chose our own will. We can (and should!) go to Confession this Advent. We can reach out to a family member or friend where there is distance and make peace. We can do good for others without expecting anything in return. We can suffer humiliations like Jesus did when things don’t always go our way.
As we “straighten the paths” of our own hearts and minds, we become more friendly people, joyful Christians, better disciples of Jesus, and far more open and ready to invite others into our lives, homes, and parish. What a great way to celebrate Advent and get ready for Christmas!
Don’t forget, this week we also celebrate the Patronal Feast Day of our Nation, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary on December 8. We have a special Vigil Mass for our children at 5 PM on Wednesday, followed by our regular Vigil Mass at 7 PM and then Masses on Thursday at 8 AM and 7 PM. See you then!
Rev. Mark Zacker