I remember what a priest once shared, during the season of Advent, on how his mother prepared her children for the celebration of Christmas.
This mother, though she was an illiterate and simple woman, she had a very unique way of preparing her children for Christmas. On the eve of the Season of Advent, after the family prayer, she would remind the children, in her simple way about the onset of Advent. She would tell them that could make the Christmas crib only with the good things they had done. For every good deed done, for every duty performed well the children were allowed to keep a blade of grass or straw from the field. And only with this grass they were allowed to make the crib for Christmas. The priest remarked, usually by the end of advent season, they would have sufficient grass and hay to make a crib and a heart full of love for Jesus and for one another.
We are once again in the joyful season of advent to prepare ourselves spiritually for Christmas. In this reflection, I would like to present John the Baptist as a model for us in our spiritual preparation for Christmas. We meet John the Baptist in the Gospel as a man of wilderness. Wilderness can be understood as a place or time of solitude and prayer. It is only when one withdraws to solitude and interior silence we can listen to the inner voice of the heart. Here we are not occupied with work and there are no worries about success and failures of life. In the wilderness one realizes that my “being” is more important than my “having.”
In our information age, we are overloaded with excessive information which is often unproductive and confusing. Around us there is so much distortion, noise, busyness, activism, materialism and pleasure seeking. The consumeristic society in which we are living vigorously tries to tell us that happiness lies in “having” more than in “being.”
In this context it is a big challenge for us to withdraw to wilderness and to encounter God and other deeper realities of life. Solitude, interior silence, prayer etc… are difficult to attain unless we make conscious efforts to set apart time and place for it. As we begin our Advent journey, if we could decide to spend some time daily in solitude and prayer that can be a best advent spiritual preparation for Christmas.
About the Author:
Fr. Binoy Puthusery, C.M. is a Vincentian priest belonging to the Southern Indian Province. He was ordained as priest on December 27, 2008 and soon after served as an assistant parish priest in Tanzania. In 2011, after two years of ministry, he was appointed as Spiritual Director to the Vincentian Sisters of Mercy, Mbinga Tanzania, where he still is today.