The readings of the day are available here.
For as long as I can remember it has been a tradition in my family to go to Christmas Eve Mass, return home for Mom’s delicious home cooked dinner, and then open presents. When I was younger, I remember Advent being a season of great expectation. However, not for the right reasons. I had thoughtfully made my Christmas list, and ever so carefully arranged those items based on priority. As Christmas approached more presents would appear under the tree, and we would be that much closer to being able to open them. The reason this time of the year was so exciting was because I knew I was getting presents. There was no doubt about it. It was exciting because I really bought into it – I knew that I would receive a present and I was hopeful enough to actually think that the item on the top of my list was wrapped up under the tree. Sadly though, Advent was not a time of hopeful waiting for the coming of Jesus – the Messiah. This was because I had no legitimate reason to believe Jesus was truly coming into my heart. He hadn’t in past Christmases – or at least I wasn’t aware of it. There was no present wrapped up at church marked, “To: Andrew From: Your Heavenly Father”. It all seemed too abstract. There was no tangible gift to assure my hopes would be fulfilled, and so I didn’t hope. I was, and still am today, afraid that if I fully buy into the hopeful expectation of Advent that I might be let down. But what if that was not the case? What if I truly invested in this Advent? What if I was vulnerable enough with my Father to surrender my fears and doubts and believe like a child again? How would that change things? Well first off, I would have to reorder my Christmas list. In the Gospel reading, Jesus presents yet another one of his cryptic parables: that of the lost sheep. He tells us that it is not our Father’s will that we be lost. He desires that we all share in His extravagant and intimate love. And what’s more, is that he is seeking us out to ensure that reality: he is becoming the Good Shepherd. In this way, we can see that Jesus is not only our Savior, He is a passionate Lover pursuing a relationship with us. So this Christmas, our Father is offering us the gift of a marvelous love. That is something truly worthy of the top spot on my Christmas list. Now, I must ask you, how can this Advent season be different? What if we really believe that our Father, the Father who never disappoints, was offering us the ultimate present and all we have to do is come to Him in the intimacy of our hearts with open hands? What if we fully expected to receive Jesus this Christmas? How deeply are we willing to be convinced of this truth? How can this Advent be different?
Hello! My name is Andrew Barenz. I am a sophomore at SLU majoring in Public Health. Outside of academics I have two major passions: Jesus and adventure. Since coming to SLU, I have discovered my newfound love of climbing and slack lining, but I also enjoy long road trips full of deep conversation and random shenanigans with friends. And while my walk with Jesus didn’t start here at SLU, this journey has had many turns and twists, taking me much deeper in that relationship.