We the lay faithful have this mission to make the invisible visible. Christmas trees have sprouted everywhere in Bangkok. The pandemic cannot stop this spirit. I was at dinner with a group of Thai friends and mentioned was made that Christmas is their favourite time of the year. Yet, they asked me a Christian to tell them what Christmas actually signified. That was an Advent awakening for me to realise that this spirit of Christmas seeps into every pore of humanity and it is up to us the lay faithful to rise and point to the reason for the season.
Advent is this season of preparation for the coming of our Lord. It isn’t only about the birth of Jesus and the ensuing celebrations. It is also about our preparations for our end time. But of most significance to us as lay faithful, it is the coming of Christ, the presence of our Almighty God, humbled into the reality of our daily life. Many people cannot see this presence and so it is left to us the lay faithful to make visible the invisible.
“Look, I am going to send my messenger before you; he will prepare your way. A voice cries in the wilderness: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Today’s Gospel)
The Gospel passage speaks of John the Baptist. Today’s Gospel is Mark’s. In the Gospel of John there was a scene following next week’s passage where John the Baptist was with two disciples and saw Jesus walking by and he pointed out exclaiming, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” Advent is this preparation to recognize the presence of Christ in our daily life and if we are disciples, the lay faithful, then it must be that we are called to be “John the Baptist” to the people in our life, to point out this presence to those who do not know and cannot see.
“Console my people, console them” (First Reading). “Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.” (Responsorial Psalm).
We point out Jesus to others. How? Everyone has a story. Our life journey is uniquely personal. God is present in every story, in every person. Emmanuel, God with us, is the promised gift of Christmas to every person. But not everyone sees or feels this presence for various reasons. We must always exchange our stories and as lay faithful listen with compassion. In every story we will see Jesus in the chapters, in the turning points, in blessings and consolations. These we must point out otherwise they will not realise who Jesus is.
These days, the human mind seeks out experiences to be gratified and convinced. Our stories are our personal experiences in life. Seeing Jesus in our personal chapters is experiencing and encountering Him. And it gratifies.
This Christmas in this age of the new normal, give this gift of change. Many people share a common misconception of our Almighty God. They cannot get their minds around the fact that God, almighty as He is, comes into the midst of the little details of our personal life. Who me? We are called to make real for others this presence of God in their life. Small, little constant acts of good for one another make God real and visible.
Christmas trees always bring cheer to everyone even to those who do not know the meaning of Christmas. The joy is contagious. We are the lay faithful called to sprout in the life of others radiant and bright like a Christmas tree.
The Second Sunday of Advent