Advent is the season for preparation, anticipating the coming feast of Christmas. There are so many ways that people prepare their homes for the Christmas season. Furniture gets moved around to make room for the Christmas tree, some items on shelves and tables get taken down and put away so that there is room for the special Christmas decorations inside and outside. From lights on trees, to lighted displays, to special dishes, figurines and figures, homes get transformed into special wonderlands that affect our person, our being. We use light to reduce the darkness of these shorter days, and colorful materials, decorations and even scented candles to enliven the evening hours. We do so much to make our homes look different, look festive, in order to welcome in family members, visitors and friends.
Similarly, the Gospels and the scripture texts chosen for Advent invite us to transform our lives and hearts remembering what St. Paul wrote of the people of Ephesus “I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” God is calling us to greater holiness, each and every day with the support of the love of Christ.
At the same time we know that we are God’s beloved, we also know that we are capable of committing sin whether by commission or omission, failing to do the good we ought and give in to the temptations that are ever present in our lives. How do we transform our hearts to allow the light of Christ to dispel any darkness, to enliven us with His grace and love?
Whether we admit it or not, we are all sinners, as Pope Francis has said, not necessarily grievous sinners, but we commit the ordinary sins that keep us in an internal prison, the prison of fear, or doubt, or lack of hope or trust that God can work in our lives. We sometimes engage in gossip, passing on half truths rather than checking the source of information and then disparage the reputation of another. Sometimes we lack the ability to love as we ought due to human weakness and stress. Whether we go to the sacrament of reconciliation or simply ask for God’s healing mercies, we can better prepare our hearts for Christ anew in our lives and hearts this Advent season.