December 29, 2011 by eneubauer
As part of my parish responsibilities and personal preparation for the Advent Season I am facilitating a class based on the devotional book, “The Via Advent” by Shawn Small. I am using this particular resource because I had a strong impression that many needed encouragement to slow down, reflect on and return to anticipating the Advent Season – unearthing Advents implications for our lives.
Today, as I was reading through The Via Advent I fell upon a verse in Luke 1: 23, which states “’Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,’ which means, ‘God with us,’” What an amazing statement and appropriate for this Christmas day. It is in Emmanuel – (the Incarnation of Jesus Christ) that we have God among us. WOW! This historic reality is so amazing that I began to think, “What are the practical implications of such a statement if we believe it to be true?”
Let me begin by restating what Sacred Scripture reveals regarding the Incarnation / Life, Death, & Resurrection of Christ. It is in this revelation that we experience two amazing truths. First, we learn that God, in & through Jesus Christ, became Incarnate and lived among His creation for the sake of our reconciliation and eternal salvation. Second, what was revealed in the Incarnation and buttressed by Christ’s own words (Jn. 14:26) is that He would remain with us (in a supernatural way) throughout the ages – leading and guiding us into truth.
It was while pondering these monumental truths that I began asking myself some simple questions as a way to measure my sensitivity to Christ’s presence in my life. Therefore, If Christ is (actually) present with us how does this affect my approach to:
- The stewardship of resources (time, talent, treasure)
- Our relationship with our neighbors (Mt. 22:39)
- The way in which we approach Mass & the Eucharist
- My spiritual formation & that of my family (prayer, devotional time etc.)
- My willingness to slow down & hear / listen to the voice of God in the silence of my heart
These are a few of the questions I began asking myself and are only representative of the type of questions I am encouraging you to ask. Again, let’s get back to the crux of the situation. Here we are celebrating the Incarnation of the ONE whom we have been looking for. The truth of the Incarnation and the reality of His abiding presence in our lives ought to challenge us to stop, reflect and ask ourselves – “How should we be conducting our lives?”
It is precisely because of the Incarnation and its implications that I committed time in silent reflection – asking myself some tough questions. Here are some of the actions I have been encouraged to pursue. I will be spending more time in:
- Self-evaluation & reflection
- Repentance & Reconciliation
- The Re-ordering of life to focus on
- Intellectual Development
- Spiritual Maturity
- Physical Fitness
Now when I look at this list I realize that many of these items are spiritual “no brainers” for someone who has walked along this pilgrim’s path for over 15 years. However, as I reflect upon my own journey and where I am at TODAY I have come to realize just how difficult it can be to maintain balance in ALL of these areas on a regular basis. Therefore, I am on a New Years’ quest to develop consistency in all areas outlined above. A wise man once said, “If my interior life is not developed and in order than my exterior life will reflect disorder.” In 2012 I am looking for order, peace and ultimately a year of real growth.
I did not walk into this class, discussing The Via Advent, in the hopes of discovering what I have come to realize and note in this blog entry. I came into the Via Advent simply to reawaken an anticipatory spirit for this Christmas Season. However, what I have received has been so much more. It is on the precipice of this New Year that I am asking you take some time to read and reflect on the Incarnation – moving forward in 2012 by saying, “not my will but your will be done!”