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Look to Children for the True Meaning of Advent and Christmas

An Advent Reflection by Deacon Rit DiCaprio

Tell me if this sounds familiar: Christmas music, on the radio, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, starting in mid-November. On the TV, and in the news papers, constant advertising, telling you where to find the best gifts at the best prices for this Christmas Season. Planning your Christmas party, with who to invite, who not to invite, and what to eat. Shopping, decorating, preparing; If you’re anything like me, by the time Christmas Day arrives I’m in total burnout mode. When we place all our energies, our thoughts, our cares into that one day, Christmas Day, making sure everything is perfect; we could be missing the most important part of Christmas, ADVENT!

Advent, comes from the Latin word, “ad-venire” or in English, “to come to.” The Advent season is a time of preparation. Yes, the shopping, decorating, cooking and gatherings are at the heart of the Christmas season, but, right in the very center of that heart is the preparation that directs our own hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and also to the celebration of our Lord’s birth on Christmas day. Advent is the time when we can clean out the closets of our heart’s, and rid ourselves of the baggage that prevents us from allowing God “to come to us.”

If you have trouble with that task, just take a look at the young ones in your life; your kids, your grandkids, nieces and nephews, sisters and brothers. Follow their lead on how to forgive and forget and start anew. Jesus tells us in Mark’s Gospel; “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them. It is to just such as these the Kingdom of God belongs. I assure you that whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God as a little child shall not enter into it.” Look to children for the true meaning of Advent and Christmas.

This short prayer to God from writer David Haas puts things into perspective for me; I hope it can do the same for you.

God, how I delight in your word!

At the same time, however, the promise that you proclaim seems too good to be true!

Could such a world truly exist?

Could I truly live in this kind of harmony and mutual love?

Sometimes these words of peace and reverence on earth,

This vision of righteousness and faithful living, seem so impossible and unrealistic that I close my eyes and become cynical and hopeless.

I need your Spirit to fill me and probe my heart, to take away my apathy and the numbing that the world injects.

I must remember that you are God and that nothing is impossible with you.

You alone are wisdom and understanding, you alone are the knowledge and comfort that I need to live. Your ways and your works are awesome, and your wonders are beyond my wildest dreams!

This vision that you give to me is one that I can live out in small ways.

I need to lie down with those I would like to devour or with those who want to devour me.

People often say: “Christmas is for children.”

And your word says that a little child shall lead us.

Help me to look to children, who, with simplicity and wonder of life, can teach me much this season.

May I love as the young child loves, may I reach out and forgive easily as young children do, and may I become the presence of the Christ Child this year and every day of my life. Amen.

May the peace and love of Christ be with you this Advent season!

-Deacon Rit