Prepare for the coming of Christ by listening Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Dec. 07, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

The word Advent comes from the Latin Adventus which means coming.

From the first Sunday of Advent to December 17, we focus upon the second coming of Jesus so that when he comes in glory, he will find us ready to meet him.

From December 17 to Christmas Eve, we prepare to celebrate Christ’s coming at Christmas. We also prepare for the comings of Christ in daily life.

Hope for peace

In his 2013 Sunday Angelus Advent message, Pope Francis stressed the hope for peace during Advent, when we prepare to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace.

He referred to Isaiah 2:4, which prophesizes that when the Messiah comes, nations will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, one nation will not raise their swords against another, nor shall they train for war again.

Pope Francis declared, “What a great day it will be when weapons will be dismantled into instruments of work.”

The billions spent on weapons could help to feed the poor whom Pope Francis treasures.

On October 4, 1965, Pope Paul VI, the first pope to visit our country, celebrated Mass at Yankee Stadium. “No more war, never again war!” Pope Paul VI pleaded in English with a soft Italian accent. “Drop your weapons. One cannot love with offensive weapons in hand.”

He also addressed the United Nations General Assembly where he quoted President John F. Kennedy, who declared that “mankind must put an end to war or war would put an end to mankind.”

He also warned of the perils of the nuclear arms race as Pope Francis has also repeatedly done.

Listen like Mary

Especially during Advent, Pope Francis also invites us to listen like Mary, patroness of Advent. Mary could easily be called the patroness of listening, because she listened and responded to the message God sent through the angel asking her to become the mother of Jesus, who came to bring peace and hope.

Listening is an act of respect! When we truly listen, we say to the person speaking, “I respect you so much that I lay aside my concerns to give you my full attention.”

Good listeners listen with their ears and their heart. They are especially appreciated because they affirm the worth of the person to whom we listen.

In Romans 10:17 it says “Faith comes through hearing and what is heard comes through the Word of Christ.’’ In good homilies, the homilist opens, interprets, and applies God’s Word to us.

Worshipers who have a deep personal relationship with Jesus benefit more from homilies. To participate fully, consciously, and prayerfully in Mass, which includes the homily, we need a deep personal relationship with Jesus.

Contrary to popular belief, active listening to Sunday homilies does not require much time. But it does require faith, concentration, and Advent patience.

According to Fr. John Burke, an expert on preaching, if the preacher preaches a 10-minute homily 48 Sundays a year, the listener would only hear a little more eight hours of Eucharistic preaching in one year.

If the homilist extends the homily to 15 minutes, the listener will be exposed to a little more than 12 hours per year.

If the homilist preaches a six-minute homily, then listening to Sunday homilies would require about five hours per year. Isn’t this amazing?

Father Burke suggests that we compare the amount of time that we spend listening to homilies with the amount of time that we spend watching sports or other activities. Again the results may be surprising.

Deepening our relationship with Jesus

If we invite Jesus, the Word of God, more fully into our lives, He will help us to grow in His image. We believe that Jesus can take our Advent hopes, joys, and sorrows and use them to help us to fashion a crib in our heart to receive Him at Christmas.

In his book entitled The Great Reformer, Austen Ivereigh tells how over the years Pope Francis deepened his relationship with Jesus and became a better listener and more Christ-like.

Like John the Baptist and Isaiah, we can use Advent in other ways to prepare the way for Christ’s Coming. Confession, devotions, prayer, spiritual reading, visiting shut-ins, and other good works also help us to prepare for the coming of Jesus.

An Advent Wreath, placed strategically in our home, is a daily reminder that it’s still Advent and not yet Christmas

Since Mary is patroness of Advent, we can pray the Rosary, participate in the Mass of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe, Sunday Mass, and Eucharistic Adoration. The Holy Spirit will show us other ways if we ask.

May this Advent help us to receive the Jesus at Christmas in the crib of our heart with the surprise of the shepherds, the song of the angels, the wonder of the magi, and the joy of Mary and Joseph.

Fr. Donald Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.