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Giving the Gift of Self

When families begin a journey, like going to an event or visiting a relative’s home they pack the children into the car and inevitably, after going only a couple of miles, the kids begin to chant, “Are we there yet?” Often, the difficulty in making the journey is the patience necessary to arrive safely and with minimal frustration.

Archbishop Listecki


Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
 

 

When families begin a journey, like going to an event or visiting a relative’s home they pack the children into the car and inevitably, after going only a couple of miles, the kids begin to chant, “Are we there yet?” Often, the difficulty in making the journey is the patience necessary to arrive safely and with minimal frustration.
 
This is the third week of Advent and since the day after Thanksgiving, the chant arose: “Are we there yet?” Like the ever-patient parent, Holy Mother the Church responds with, “Soon, my dear children, very soon.”
 
The third Sunday in Advent is referred to as Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday. It is taken from the first word of the initial prayer. Holy Mother, the Church, informing us that she has received a communication from our expectant visitor, Jesus, and that He is confirming His arrival. Now, it is up to us to take the precious time left to properly arrange things for Him.
 
A good coach of a sports team or a director of a dramatic production can predict how well his or her people will perform on game day or opening night, by how well they practiced the day before. The success of our Christmas celebration is dependent on how well we exercise those special spiritual actions, which prepare us for Christmas celebration. Let me offer three suggestions: 1) prayer; 2) reconciliation; and 3) charitable works.
 
When we pray, we open our hearts to listen to God. Listening is an important aspect of communication. It is not only conveying to God what we want, but more importantly, listening to what God wants from us. Therefore, in the busyness of our lives, we must take time to be silent. In silence, we claim the moment for God to challenge us to lead lives of holiness. We would never want to miss the message that He is sending us. The Christ child is His message of unconditional love.
 
When we expect visitors, we clean house. We want our homes to be as clean as possible as a sign of respect to our guests. What greater guest can we expect to come to us than our Lord? St. John Paul II stated that the Church in the third millennium would be renewed by two sacraments: the Eucharist and reconciliation. It is so important that we renew ourselves with the sacrament instituted to forgive sin. Sin is our greatest enemy. It is both an enemy to the Church and to our personal holiness. We sometimes forget that reconciliation, as a sacrament, is grace giving. The frequent use of this sacrament strengthens our personal holiness. Now, in the remaining days before Christmas, make an effort to receive the sacrament of reconciliation.
 
We all look for the perfect gift for that special person. What do you get for the person who has everything? Our Lord Jesus directs us in a particular way to love others in His name. I would suggest that you do some intentional charitable good works in the name of Jesus as your gift to Him (i.e. donate some clothes to a shelter, volunteer for a parish activity or extend yourself in a way that is inconvenient.) This is the gift of “self,” recognizing that we owe our God everything.
 
In this third week of Advent, we are not there yet, but we are close. Let’s spend the time remaining to discuss how we can LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Note: This blog originally appeared as the December 18, 2018 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.

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