When December 6 comes around, I am always taken back to a great memory roughly 23 years ago. After two long years of begging for a dog, I was to the point of giving up. On December 6, however, my mother told me that I had to go babysit my neighbor. After an hour, I was told to go back home and sit on the couch. As I sat there, my whole family stared at me with great anticipation, while I was strangely wondering what was going on. Then all of sudden, I saw movement under a blanket on the couch and lo and behold, I saw this little golden retriever puppy run toward me. I was shocked! I was overjoyed! I was filled with great happiness! All the waiting was over! I finally received what I was longing for! Sammy!
But in reality, while I received what I was longing for, this gift changed my life as I knew it. Not only did I have to walk my dog, but I had to feed him, change the water, comb him, and pick up all his wonderful gifts in the back yard! This great gift carried with it a great call to love, which changed my life as a young kid. It was no longer about me, but about the other in love.
I share this story with you during Advent because we find ourselves in a great time of waiting and longing. Waiting for the Lord to return. Longing for his presence in our lives. In this Sunday’s gospel, we hear how John the Baptist speaks those words in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths...One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of His sandals. I have baptized you with water; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
We are called to prepare our hearts for the greatest gift of all – the gift of Jesus Christ – the ultimate gift! And while each of us will rejoice when We receive Him at Christmas, our lives will be forever changed because of Him! As we receive the great gift of Jesus Christ, we too receive the great call to love, that will change our lives forever – far more than any dog ever could. With the coming of the Lord, with the gift of the Holy Spirit, our lives will no longer be about ourselves, but will be about serving the other in love, as Jesus did in so many ways. So, this Advent, be prepared. Make straight your paths. But most of all, get ready, for when Jesus comes, your life as you know it will never be the same! And praise God for that!
May God’s peace and joy be with you!
Fr. Jeremy Merzweiler