The day before the season of Advent began, our family was strolling about Costco, trying to find some flameless, LED candles to use for our Advent wreath. A moment later, my husband received an unexpected call from his sibling, with the news that his father was passing away from this life on earth.
It has not been an ordinary Advent. But our ears have perked up and are listening more intently to the Word of God. The next morning, the First Sunday of Advent, the extended family gathered and heard the words of Jesus: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” The following days the Gospel encouraged us to “be like a wise man who built his house on rock, “ (Mt 7 :21,24 – 27), and to “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” (Mk 1: 1-8). We were promised “a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3: 8-14).
We went on to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, later that night holding a vigil and Rosary to pray for the dear soul of my father-in-law and asking our Blessed Mother to be with him and accept God’s merciful love on his behalf. The next morning, the feast of St. Juan Diego, we celebrated the funeral Mass of the Resurrection, followed by a graveside ceremony. My heart ached at the sadness of my husband, and my children grieved aloud for the loss of their beloved grandfather.
Although we did not choose it, this is the Advent our Father has planned for us. Mary did not choose the path God had willed for her, but she said yes and allowed God to work through her. In this way, our Father hopes to draw us closer to Himself. This is the setting in which He wills us to hear His invitation to hope in His promises, to find joy in the Nativity. Although this Christmas will be quite different than years past, with grace and faith, in the arms of Our Blessed Mama, we look to celebrate the true gift of love that God offers to us by becoming one of us. We can participate in the Eucharistic celebration and be united with the communion of saints, meeting our Abuelito (grandfather) around the Table of the Lord.
I pray that this year, in our more vulnerable state, we will find ourselves hungering more deeply for eternal life. I pray we are more open to the healing God wishes to bestow upon us, by allowing the events of this particular Advent season. I see that God loves us each uniquely. I am seeing more and more my misery, my real need for the gift of our Redeemer. Little by little, I am more and more grateful for the Christ Child, as I see my personal Rescuer. I pray that I might not focus too much on my wounds, my misery, but on the truth that God wants to heal me of something. He is seeking me out, with a profound and mysterious love.
“O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! EmmanuelShall come to thee, O Israel.”