See Christ in Everything
Christianity is a lifestyle of paradoxes. We only keep love and joy, Jesus says, be giving it away. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” says the Golden Rule. And the greatest paradox of all: It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Advent, the season of the Church year that we entered at the beginning of this month, is the most paradoxical of liturgical seasons. During this time when we prepare for the celebration of Christ’s birth at Christmas, the Church encourages us to slow down, to wait patiently, and to cultivate expectant hope for the coming of our Savior.
Our culture, of course, says just the opposite at this time of year. The frenzy that is the Christmas shopping season grows more with every passing day. The advertisers scream at us to buy now! Buy the best! Buy the most expensive! And whatever you do, DON’T wait or you’ll be left behind!
I’ve often pictured the Christian in Advent as Sean Connery or Sigourney Weaver in one of those movies where the walls of the room are slowly but inevitable closing in on the hero or heroine. The star is doing everything possible to keep from being squeezed to death. The Catholic in Advent is trying his or her best to keep from being squeezed by the Christmas to-do list, from having every last bit of peace and hope forced from his or her grasp.
Most of us, perhaps, have to fight for time to pray and reflect in Advent, even for a few minutes a day. But the “fight” is worth it. It can make our Advent and Christmas seasons more peaceful, and can make us kinder and more generous, perhaps less tired, and certainly more ready to recognize the presence of Christ at Christmas and every day in our lives.
That’s the thing about living our faith: We are called to see Christ not only on Christmas, and not only in the other special events and celebrations of the year. We are called to see Christ in the people and circumstances of every day. We are invited to see Christ in the people we live and work with, and in the people we see on the street. We are invited to see Christ in the happy times and in the trying times. We are invited to see Christ when we feel his presence near us and when he seems far away from us.
So push back against the walls closing in on you this Advent season. Find a few moments a day to read a Scripture passage, to pray a decade of the rosary, or to simply sit quietly and let Jesus speak to your heart. You will hear the Lord tell you that he loves you, and that he wants to be close to you and have you close to him. You will hear Jesus tell you that he took on a human body and life and gave that life on the cross so that you could live eternally with him in heaven. And you will hear him invite you to slow down just a bit this season and experience the peace and joy of his being born anew in your heart.