The commercial world starts early in preparing for Christmas. Business concerns itself with financial profits and not the Old Testament prophets who announced the coming of the Messiah. Advent is a time for renewal of our faith in Christ our Savior. This involves cleaning our minds and hearts of sins, faults and any other experiences that would distance us from God.
Advent summons us to spiritual renewal. The stores look for monetary salvation. Advent challenges us to spiritual salvation. Cash registers ring with economic success. Advent rings the bells of moral and spiritual success. The stores pay for big spenders. Advent bells ring for renewed Christians. Commerce says, “Buy everything we sell.” Our Advent church echoes Christ’s words to the rich man, “Sell all you have and follow me.”
Of course we are not mean-spirited. We don’t lament the enthusiasm of the salespeople. We do regret that Christians may not match and outdo the sharp dedication of the world of business. The challenge to all of us on the first Sunday of Advent is to prepare for the celebration of the birth of the Son of God from the womb of our Holy Mother, Mary of Nazareth. Christ’s arrival should be welcomed with more determination than the energy of the business world in its hopes.
The question before us on the first Sunday of Advent is what will shape our moral values? Will it be the expectation of Christ or the titillation of the secular world? What is the use of gaining approval of an unethical world while losing the integrity of our souls?
Worldly hedonism is making our bodies fat, our hearts weak, our lungs cancerous, our livers white with cirrhosis. Character and discipline, which are essential to being Christian, will give us wholesome lives. We must find interior peace, the foundation of our families.
Respond positively to the Advent challenge of moral and spiritual renewal. The real question is: Are we ready to meet Jesus who wants to meet each of us with arms of love, mercy and the seeds of hope that will fill our hearts?
Advent daily prayer
Father of Advent, in your mercy, you sent your Son as a savior to be born in Bethlehem — the house of bread. Now you continue to send your Risen Son into our lives, provided our hearts are prepared to welcome and receive him. We pledge to you in this Advent that we will being a process of moral and spiritual renewal, so that we may be open to Christ’s coming. Father, give us you love to make this possible.
Norbertine Fr. McBride is a popular lecturer and author of more than 40 books.