In today's Gospel reading we hear John the Baptist declare: "Prepare the way of the Lord!" It is the second Sunday of Advent. We are getting closer! So how do we prepare for the Lord?
Catholics have three traditional ways of preparing for Christmas. They are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Does that sound like Lent to you?
Notice that the liturgical color of Advent is the same as Lent. Purple! And in Advent, as in Lent, we put a special emphasis on preparing - in this case, preparing to celebrate the first coming of Jesus into the world. Why prayer, fasting, and almsgiving? Isn't this a season of joy?
Yes! It IS a season of joy, and happy anticipation of the Feast of Christmas. But there are people around us who suffer. Prayer, fasting and almsgiving gives us an opportunity to help others - to show them the joy we have as Christians.
Prayer strengthens us for living in this world by focusing our heart on the things of God. Can you pray for one extra person each day? Do you know someone who is sad or suffering at this joyful time of year? Pray daily for that person! Ask Jesus to come to them in a special way.
Fasting is like exercise. When we say NO to something good, like a meal, or dessert, or that cup of Starbucks, it helps our NO muscles get stronger - when we come up against temptations we have practiced saying NO to ourselves. But fasting also gives us an opportunity to help others. When we say NO to ourselves, we can say YES to others. Buy coffee for someone else. Take dessert to a neighbor. Cook a meal and take it to a new mother. Fasting is not just about us - it is about God and others.
Finally, almsgiving helps us get ready because we are reaching out to the less fortunate - we are being like Jesus to them. You don't have to be rich to help the poor. Did your chicken lay extra eggs? Give them away. Did you find something on sale at the market? Buy some extra and give it to a neighbor. Do you live where there are street beggars? Buy them some bread or a bowl of rice. Do you have a little extra money? Make a donation to the Sisters who care for the poor, or the Salvation Army. When we share, it helps us stop loving THINGS and helps us love people instead. God loves us. We are commanded to love others, not just in word, but in deed. When we help others, we love Jesus.
Jesus gives everything to us. What will you give to Him?
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I am a Catholic wife, mom and grandma. In 1995, after Bible college and a few years as an Evangelical Missionary, I was received into the Church at the Easter Vigil. These are my personal musings on Scripture, prayer, and living close to Jesus.