Greetings in Jesus during this joyful season!
As I mentioned in the homilies last weekend, the Season of Advent is given to us by the Church as a time of joyful preparation—preparation for a very specific purpose: deeper union with the Lord Jesus Himself. As the Jews longed for the coming of the Messiah, so we long for His coming as well; a deeper union with the Lord Jesus as He comes more deeply into our hearts. This is the core of what it means for us to be disciples.
How do we do this? As the first reading proclaimed for that First Sunday of Advent, we desire to go up to the Lord’s Mountain “that He may instruct us in His ways and we may walk in His paths.” This is the initial key to this process—to learn His ways. The analogy that would be most useful to use during this time is the analogy of friendship. Of all the titles and aspects of the Lord Jesus that we could reflect on, e.g. Savior, Lord, etc., the most astonishing is that He calls us friends! To be His friend is a gift, and it is a gift that is initiated by Him! He invites; He calls us to friendship with Him; and it is the Holy Spirit Who enables this wonderful relationship! Jesus Himself initiates it—as Revelation points out: He stands at the door and knocks. He awaits our response. Friendship with Him is a reality we would never have dared to hope for except for the fact that it was His idea in the first place.
It is a basic rule of relationships that you cannot be friends with someone you do not know; therefore, if we are going to respond to His amazing invitation for us to be friends, we need to come to know Him better, hence the emphasis on letting Him “instruct us in His ways.” He has given us His Word for precisely this reason. It is the sure guide, the inspired guide, for us to get to know Him better.
To that end, making a concrete choice (and actually following through with it!) to read the Scriptures at least ten minutes a day during this Advent Season would be a great way to get to know Him better and by so doing, prepare our hearts for ever greater friendship with the Lord Jesus. As no Scriptures speak more of the Lord Jesus than do the Gospels themselves, they would be the best place to start—especially the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, with their emphasis on the Incarnation and the amazing events that led to His Birth. Every time we read the Scriptures, let us first take a moment and pray: ‘Lord Jesus, as I read Your Word, may my friendship with You grow deeper!’
To be a disciple literally means to be one who is taught; in our case, taught by the Master. Our Master loved us enough to become flesh for our sake, to suffer and die for us, to rise for us, and to fill us with His Holy Spirit and to place us securely in the heart of His Church. Let us live this holy season with our focus on the Lord Jesus, so that as we read His Word and spend time in prayer, we would grow in that friendship that is His amazing gift to us! — Fr. Ed