This week, they’ve been building the nativity scene out on the front lawn of the church. Mary and Joseph are out there, and the stable, the manger… a sheep, and of course… a donkey.
Now we all know what that means when the nativity scene comes out again! Christmas is on the way. We’re about to celebrate the birth of Jesus!
It’s been especially entertaining to see how excited the kindergarteners have been to watch the nativity scene be constructed. One day this week, I saw them marching around the manger with their teachers, chanting something over and over. I thought for sure they were chanting “Savior! savior! savior!” …because you know, Jesus is our savior! He came to save us from our sins, after all.
But I was soon corrected. They were chanting “Stable! Stable! Stable!”
I guess that works too.
I was curious, though, why exactly they were so interested in the nativity scene — so I went over and asked them: “Why are you guys so interested in all this?”
One little boy spoke up quite confidently: “Well…I’m actually interested in the donkey… because I like horses, zebras, and donkeys.”
Can’t argue with that!
On a deeper level, though, I think we get excited to see Christmas decorations go up because we sense that something really big is about to happen! The suspense builds, and we instinctively know that we are about to celebrate the central core of our Catholic faith: That God loved us so much, that He became one of us. That God took on a human body, and actually lived among us.
In our gospel passage from this morning, Jesus is basically promising us that He’s going to come back one day, and that we’ll know it when we see it, just like we know Christmas is on the way when we see all the decorations going up. Jesus tells us:
Consider the fig tree and all the other trees. When their buds burst open, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near; in the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near.
In other words, You know summer is coming when the flowers are in bloom, just like you know Christmas is coming when you see the lights, and the candles, and the nativity scene go up, donkeys and all! The kingdom of God is near!
Now what should our response be when we see these things happening?
We should prepare! I’m sure many of you all have been learning about the Advent season in your classes this week. If so, you’ll probably remember that Advent is all about preparation.
Preparation for what?
To welcome Jesus Christ into the world and into our own souls! That’s what this season is all about! To prepare for the birth of Jesus, and become more like Him in the process.
But how can we prepare for the birth of Jesus? I have a few suggestions that might help all of us have a more fruitful Advent:
First of all, we can thank Jesus for being born into this world. Sometimes this season gets really hectic, right? And all we start to think about is what gifts we want to get for Christmas. Meanwhile, we forget about everything we can already be thankful for! God loves us so much — the least we can do is thank Him. So thank Jesus for being born, for coming to save us. That’s the first, and maybe the most important thing we can all do!
Second of all, we can pray for Him to come into our daily lives. Jesus wants to be with you each and every day, in everything you do. Include him in whatever it is your doing today at school. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Ask him very simply: Jesus, can you please be me today? Help me with my school work. Help me to love You better today.
And lastly, we can do good deeds. Be on the look out for ways to serve your classmates. When you’re at home, try to find new ways to be a good brother, a good sister, a good kid for your parents. Try putting the needs of others before your own! This is really hard to do, I know, but it’s a wonderful way to open ourselves up to the truth of Christmas: That Jesus came not to be served, but to serve.
These three things will help us remember what the season of Advent/Christmas is all about.
So as you walk back to class after mass today, take a good look at the nativity scene out front. Let it be a reminder throughout Advent, guys, that Jesus is on the way. That the Lord is coming! Lets prepare really well for this Christmas! Lets be ready to celebrate with joy the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.