Faith Formation

Prepare the Way of the Lord!

December 14, 2020

Advent is all about preparation.  What are we preparing for?  In one sense, it’s pretty obvious:  Christmas.  But that’s not all.  A central focus of Advent is not just preparing for Christmas, but through our preparation to celebrate the Lord’s birth, we prepare for His second coming in glory.

Why is this important?  Because we’re all going to enter eternity one day.  Whether it be through death or the second coming, we will all leave this earthly life.  And with it, we will leave the opportunity to have a second chance at life and forgiveness of our sins.

That can be scary!  But more than inspiring fear, it should inspire motivation to prepare for this moment.  Why?  Because the Lord Jesus has conquered death!  We know that through His resurrection, Christ will die no more, and that through our Baptism, our deaths are united with His so that we will also experience the power of His resurrection, and die no more.

We’re destined to live forever with God, but that doesn’t mean we will.  Think of a promising high school athlete who wants to go pro.  They’ve got everything an athlete could desire:  strength, skill, knowledge of the game.  But raw talent isn’t enough.  They’ve got to prepare to go pro.  This athlete will have to work hard every day through college to even have a hope of playing at the professional level—and even then, they will have to work even harder to even begin to compete with the best in the game.  And what if they don’t choose to put in the effort, if they don’t prepare for the call to go pro?  Then they don’t make the cut, despite their incredible talent.

The same is true in the spiritual life.  You have everything you need to win the game of life.  The grace of salvation—heaven—is yours in Christ.  But you’ve got to prepare for heaven by living according to His grace every day.  God’s grace is everything you need, but if you don’t prepare for heaven, or in other words, if you live life however you want, you won’t be using that grace, but rather falling from it.

That means Advent is about preparing the way of the Lord in your heart.  Open your heart to following His ways.  Prepare yourself to enter eternity by confessing your sins, seeking His Heart and His grace in Holy Communion, and resolve, by His grace, to never sin again.  On top of that, and again by His grace, grow in virtue, which are those great characteristics that mark every holy person:  generosity, self-control, prudence, charity, faith, justice, hope, courage.  Pray for all this, and set about living it out every day.  In a word, be who God created you to be.  You know what to do:  have faith in Christ, love God, and love your neighbor.  We’ve known this since we were little kids!  The athlete who practices every day will be ready for the call to go pro.  Just the same, the Christian who practices the faith every day will be prepared to meet the Lord when He calls.

So eternity isn’t something to be afraid of.  Rather, our anticipation of it should look more like Advent.  Be ready!  And if you’re ready and watching for that moment, you will have great joy, peace, and excitement now, and when the call finally comes for you to go pro:  the call to be a saint in heaven!