The Gospel reading in today’s Mass illustrates why we have Advent: Christ comes to us, because we need Him. He comes to us in mysterious ways in which we are spiritually healed, nourished, and restored to new life in Him.
From today’s Gospel:
Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, went up on the mountain, and sat down there. Great crowds came to him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others.
This Gospel says that the crowds came to him, but we must also observe that he came to them first. He did so initially by humbling himself, becoming a man, and living among us. We need to recognize this first: Christ is already present. He seeks us out, gently and subtly. Now it is up to us to enter into a deeper relationship with him, by approaching him.
This is something you can do every day of your lives.
There are many ways you can do this, and Advent is one of the best times the Church gives us to focus on our personal relationship with Jesus and grow in love with Him. Here are just two things you can do better during Advent in order to foster a deeper relationship with Christ.
- Daily meditation. We all know we should pray, and perhaps some people already have a good habit of praying every day. Everyone can still improve their prayer life. The practice of daily meditation is one of the best ways to do this. It doesn’t have to involve much time. Just a few minutes is good. Just 5, 10, or 15 minutes of personal dialogue with Christ is a great way to begin the day. Try to find the time each day during Advent for silent personal prayer with Jesus. It can be just a moment after you get up and before you go to work, a brief moment during your lunch break, or even, if you can’t find another time, in the car on the way to work — be sure to turn your radio off for just a few minutes while you do this. Perhaps the best time and place to talk to God privately is in a Church, silently before the tabernacle, briefly before or right after daily Mass.
- Daily Mass. A lot of people think they don’t have time to go to Mass daily, and for some people that may be true. But here’s the thing: when something is a priority, we can find a way to make it happen. Jesus is there waiting for us. Isn’t it important then to make the time to go to him? Advent is both a penitential season and a time of grace. I’ve known a lot of people who decided made it an Advent resolution to attend daily Mass, and by the end of that season, it became so important to them that they made it a point to continue making daily Mass a part of their lives for the rest of their life. If they ever have to forego it for any reason, they really miss it. Why? Because it’s their daily encounter with the Lord, the most important part of the day. That’s exactly what it should be. In today’s Gospel we can see how much Jesus want us to have this opportunity. So we should also take advantage of it.
First, the people gather around him to be close to him. He is attentive to everyone’s needs. And yet he shows that he has a greater concern for them. In fact, after he heals them and they all give praise to God, Jesus says: “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd,” for they have nothing to eat.
He want’s to give them what they really need, which they may not realize: He wants to give them more of himself. He wants to feed them with himself.
Notice how the words in this Gospel passage are so similar to exactly what happens during the Sacrifice of the Mass:
He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets full.
The Lord is generous. He gives in abundance and never stops giving. It is up to us to take full advantage of his greatest gift, which is nothing other than the full gift of himself.
We all need Christ in our life. This is why he comes to us and why we, in turn, must go to him.
This is what Advent is for, to realize how much we need him, to long for him, and ultimately to be fully satisfied with him when he comes to us, which he does, every day of our lives.
The Advent hymn I chose for today seems appropriate to share here. It also fits well with Second Sunday of Advent that we will celebrate in just a few days. So it is a good time to start looking forward to it, as John the Baptist reminds us to look forward to the coming Messiah in next Sunday’s liturgy.