10 December 2007

Coming Home for Christmas

Long before liturgical reforms of the Pope Gregory I, when the Church was but a few centuries old, the season of Advent was a time when catechumens prepared to enter the Church. The season of Advent had a penitential nature, much like the season of Lent, as a time of preparation for those who were to be baptized. Even though the preparation period for catechumens now takes place during the season of Lent, we can still think of Advent as a time of "coming home" -- for us or for those whom we know.
In today's Gospel, we hear how the men who were bringing a paralyzed man to Jesus were not able to access him on account of the large crowd. Most of us know people who are separated from Christ or the Church for one reason or another. The symbolic "crowd" that posed an obstacle for the men carrying the paralyzed man might take a different form in the lives of those whom we know. Perhaps we have friends or relatives who have suffered an unpleasant experience in the Church and feel unwelcome. Sometimes adults who were not well catechized do not understand fully some counter-cultural Church teachings; misconceptions and misunderstandings are the "crowd" that keeps them from drawing closer to Christ. Advent is an opportune time to reach out to those we know who have become separated from Christ or the Church. We are not always in a position to evangelize or catechize but by our own example and our prayers, we can help others come home to the Lord during this sacred season of Advent.
"This is the grace that I desire for you, my dear souls: that you remain very near to this sacred Savior who is about to gather us all around Himself in order to keep us always under his most holy protection."
St. Francis de Sales

No comments: