I love the Advent season. In addition to the beautiful readings that help us focus on being ready for the Lord’s second coming and remembering the first Christmas, we have the decorations and customs that have been with us for so many years…so many great traditions…. so many memories.
As I remember our Christmas trees growing up, I picture the most beautiful tree in the world decorated with the best ornaments… the smells, the presents under the tree. In my mind we could never match the beauty of those trees. However a few years ago I saw a picture of one of these early trees and it looked like a “Charlie Brown” tree…I was shocked…. yikes, it really was kind of a “dud”. Yet in my mind, looking thru the eyes of a young boy, it was the best.
I also remember going to Midnight Mass at our parish church; St. Luke’s, was a large beautifully decorated church with the trees and lights and choir…it was magnificent. Yet when I visited the church a few years ago, it was so much smaller than I remember it…. not quite as magnificent.
What’s the point of all this? Well one thing is that it’s not the outward decorations and frills that is the most important, it’s what’s going on in the heart of the people involved. You can look in wonder at a Charlie Brown tree and be blasé before the 30’ tree at Rockefeller Center. You can be amazed during the midnight mass at St. Luke’s Church in St. Louis, and be distracted and “bumed out” during the magnificent mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
We can picture the manger at Bethlehem with wonder and think how beautiful the surroundings were… but in truth it was a stable with all the smells and discomfort and cold and wind of being outside on a bitter cold night. Yet thru the eyes of one touched by God, it was magnificent…incredible… the angels… Mary and Joseph…. wonder and awe. Thru secular eyes, it was a sorrowful situation, but thru eyes of the Holy Spirit, it was magnificent !!!
Well, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself… we’re only in the second week of Advent and not ready to celebrate Christmas yet. But I want to encourage myself and you to keep our eyes of faith open during these next couple of weeks. Ask the Lord to give us eyes of wonder and anticipation… to enjoy the “Advent Lights” that are beginning to illuminate the streets at night. Let’s enjoy decorating our homes and our trees. Let’s pray that we will select the right gifts for our loved ones and be generous in our “alms giving” to the poor and needy. And especially let’s not rush thru our times of prayer, but take our time to ponder the readings.
For those of you who have not yet gotten your tree, I do hope to provide some more helpful advice down the road… so don’t despair. Did I ever tell you about the tree I got on Christmas Eve for $1.00…. it was a beauty. (Hmmmm, I can sense my wife and kids rolling their eyes even after these many years…)