By Fr. John Jasica
HOPE THAT NEVER FADES
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
With the beginning of the Advent season, we come to the start of a new liturgical year. We start anew the story of salvation, continuing to hear and experience God’s love, mercy and strength in our own life journey. A journey that has been very challenging and difficult in 2020.
I am sure that all of us can’t wait for 2020 to end so that we can embrace a new start, a fresh outlook, and have COVID-19 be something that we would all want to forget. Despite the suffering, hardships and changes required worldwide, we have seen so many brave people step forward and help all those who are in need. When we experience times of darkness, God’s light shines through us even more brightly. May that generosity, concern, outreach and support continue in 2021 as we see great promise in the vaccines being developed and tested.
The season of Advent which leads us to Christmas is coming at the perfect time for all of us. The spirit of joy, peace, love and hope which we reflect on during this preparation season allows us to shift our focus to God’s gracious mercy by giving us Jesus!! The gift of the incarnation inspires each of us to be filled with the Christmas spirit of light, joy and salvation in a time that the world needs it the most.
Despite the fact that most of our Christmas celebrations at home and even at church will be quite different, they will still be filled with the same spirit and some of the same traditions. Although the family gatherings may take place over ZOOM and the fact that most of us will stay home with our immediate family during the holidays, we shouldn’t miss the chance to see what God wants to show us during this sacred time. This Advent and Christmas may be the most important one of our lives because we may experience and be transformed by the simple, humble yet deepest presence of Christ. Christmas is all about God’s love given to us and how we share that love with others.
JOYS OF THE SEASON
Advent and Christmas always makes me smile!! There are so many signs of grace that this year will stand out and be more noticeable and powerful for us!! Be alert, stay awake and look for those extra signs of God’s presence this season. I would like to share some of my joys this sacred season:
(1) ADVENT WREATH
The Advent Wreath is a great tradition that we have in the parish, in our schools and even at home. The four candles mark the journey of Advent as a time of preparation. It reminds us that this Christmas brings peace, joy, love and hope to all of us in different ways. The more candles we light, the brighter the light is, which helps us welcome the light of the world—Jesus Christ into our hearts anew!
(2) CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS
I am often disappointed to see all the lights, Christmas trees and other decorations up super early. Yet this year, we at the parish are decorating early because all the lights, trees and other decorations make us smile, think about hope in a time when we are tired, worn out and longing for something normal. Christmas is one of the most normal and at the same time most powerful times of the year for us. It makes sense to long for the season in our world today!
(3) CHRISTMAS SPIRIT
During this time of year, the spirit of generosity and the sharing of hope is immense! Our own parish CHRISTMAS OUTREACH to those in need brings the gift of Jesus in real and tangible ways. People are helping people, offering hope, bringing joy and realizing that we are all in this together. This Christmas we need this more than ever.
This spirit is not limited to the parish. We of course can get caught up in the commercial part of the season, but you do see on the news, in stores and in the people you meet, something different and special. The world seems to be a bit more brighter, a bit more hopeful and a bit more kind. If only we could reproduce that year round. Nevertheless, this season brings out the best in all of us, and our world needs it now. We really need Christmas!!
(4) CHRISTMAS FOOD & TREATS
Despite the fact that our Christmas dinners may be smaller this year, I am still looking forward to the amazing beet soup, meatless cabbage rolls and perogies that my mom makes each year. Our food traditions can bring us some strength and normalcy in what has been a horrendous last nine months.
This time of year is always dangerous and I try to work out on the treadmill a bit more in December because of all the cakes, treats and candies that come our way at the parish office. Moderation in everything is wise at this time. Yet all of these treats and foods help us embrace the season of a hope fulfilled—that through Christ all is good and that we are called to share that goodness, love and joy with those who are in need.
Christmas is coming at a very good time—-are you ready?