With the fourth Sunday of Advent upon us, the Church calendar gives Catholics another opportunity to make our hearts ready to welcome the Lord. Hopefully our Advent journey has prepared us well to celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas.
There is a reason we want to do our best to prepare for Jesus’ coming. On that day of promise and hope more than 2,000 years ago, He came to be with us here on Earth. Taking on human form, Jesus was born into a family that welcomed Him with open arms. They did so, even though they did not have much to offer Him materially. They could not even find a room in which to stay on the night that changed the world forever. Instead, Mary and Joseph made the best of a humble setting, where the newborn Savior was born.
He was welcomed into the world right there in a place that was home to animals, including some that drew near to the family that night.
Advent, of course, is not the only time we should be making ourselves ready for the Lord, just a particularly opportune one. We should always be vigilant, because as Cardinal Dolan reminded us in his column in the last issue and again on Page 1 in this issue, Christ not only came 2,000-plus years ago, He will return again “at the end of the world for all creation and creatures, as our existence as we know it will conclude.”
The Holy Family offers a model for us to follow. Mary’s witness to life began with her acceptance of the Archangel Gabriel’s invitation from God. Her powerful yes changed the course of history because of everything that followed it. And St. Joseph’s fidelity to Mary, when it would have been much easier to turn away from her, was an expression of his own faith. We can imagine their joyful anticipation as they prepared to welcome their child. Their unity, before God, to each other and as parents, is a vibrant example to all of us who try our best to follow their example in our own families.
All Jesus would go on to accomplish, in fulfillment of the will of His Heavenly Father, was set in motion by His birth in the humble stable in Bethlehem. That’s why it is not just a story for 2,000 years ago, but also a matter with resonance and relevance for today and tomorrow.
We know how the story of our Savior continued on Earth, first as a child and then as an adult whose three-year public ministry formed the foundations of Christianity. Ultimately, His suffering, death and resurrection established a path for our own salvation.
Jesus’ life among us was intentional, as He followed the expressed will of His, and our, Father in heaven, whom He always obeyed and pointed toward. He came into a family, as a son—and as our brother. Every element of the story is in perfect order down to the last detail.
That’s why it has stood the test of time. Our responsibility as believers is to again celebrate the birth of Jesus, and to integrate His life into ours and help our fellow believers to do the same, now and in the future.