Clearly, from last week’s beginnings, Advent shows us not only that we are people of suffering (see our first reading from Isaiah), but we are also the blessed beneficiaries of God’s mercy and comfort (this week’s first reading is God’s response, “Give comfort to my people”). But it’s easy for us to have missed such a message, tucked away in a few simple Scripture passages. In fact, in today’s world, there are lots of distractions that can keep us from seeing, from hearing, from experiencing the blessings of our great God.
And so it is: so easy for us to let the season of Advent pass us by without truly preparing ourselves to celebrate our Lord’s birth. Yet, when we enter fully into this season, our hearts become filled with joy as we await the celebration of the birth of our Savior. The Advent season becomes, then, a time of joyful anticipation. We recognize with the eyes of faith that God, in his love for us, has sent his son into the world to bring us peace and joy. This is the true gift of this season: our heavenly Father’s gift of his Son for our salvation. In the midst of this season, we would be served well by recognizing that just as the Father has given us such a gift, so must we seek to give the gift of his love to one another.
Heaven and Hell (Anonymous)
A man spoke with the Lord about heaven and hell. “I will show you hell,” said the Lord, and they went into a room which had a large pot of stew in the middle. The smell was delicious, but around the pot sat desperate people who were starving. All were holding spoons with very long handles which reached into the pot, but because the handle of the spoon was longer than their arm, it was impossible to get the stew into their mouths. Their suffering was terrible.
“Now I will show you heaven,” said the Lord, and they went into another room identical to the first one. There was a similar pot of delicious stew and the people had the same long-handled spoons, but they were well-nourished, talking and happy.
At first the man did not understand. “It is simple,” said the Lord. “You see, they have learned to feed each other.”
We have these Advent weeks to reflect on the love God has shared with us through the birth of his Son. We will discover through this holy season that our greatest joy will come when we seek to feed one another. Giving of ourselves for the sake of another is the example that our Lord has set for us. May we not allow this time to be only about the presents that are bought, given, received and sometimes returned, but rather, let us enter deeply into the gracious love we share in, when we receive our Lord on Christmas Day.