BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu

“Watch therefore — for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning — lest he come suddenly and find you asleep.” Mark 13:35-36.

Back then in school, my rector taught us about the 5p’s of success. It says: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. If something has to be good, then it must first be prepared for. The Church in its wisdom understands the importance of preparation hence, it has declared that four weeks before Christmas should be dedicated as a period of preparation for the events and ceremonies of Christmas.

This four week period of preparation is what we call Advent.

Already, many have started making plans for the Christmas, some are repainting their houses, children are asking for new clothes, new shoes and new toys. Even market women nowadays will advise you that it is better to buy the things you need now than wait till when there is a sudden increase in price as Christmas draws nearer. Some are stocking their homes with gallons of fuel and diesel so that during the holidays, there would be worry about the usual fuel scarcity we witness year after year during this period.

Nonetheless, my dear friends, there is no preparation for Christmas as important and as beautiful as the SPIRITUAL PREPARATION. If Christ is not born anew in my life, then my Christmas is just a mere dissipation; a waste of time and money.

Without a renewal of our Christian-ness, without a deeper resolve to walk away from the darkness of sin, without allowing the baby Jesus affect my character and conduct, then Christmas is just another calendar event that comes and goes.

How do I make this year’s Christmas worthwhile? Jesus answers this question in our Gospel passage this morning: He says: “Take Heed, Watch for you do not know when the time will come.” Mark 13:33

To watch is to stay awake spiritually; it is deliberately refusing to drop down our moral guard in the name of catching fun or enjoying the Christmas holiday. To watch is to be so alert in spirit that one is able to detect temptation long before it even comes. A true gateman does not for armed robbers to come before he starts thinking of what to do. He anticipates the problem and starts looking for a solution ahead of time.

Being watchful is GUARDING your heart, keeping it clean and sparkling at all times so that the baby Jesus can find a place there in to be born again. St. Peter puts it beautifully when he wrote: “Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith.” 1st Peter 5: 8-9.

Indeed, Advent is a time of preparation for Christ and this preparation is not complete without an examination of conscience and asking sincerely for the forgiveness of sin. This is exactly what the Prophet Isaiah sought to achieve in our first reading. As he says: “We sinned; … We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” Isaiah 64:5-6.

Dear friends, when I want to invite an important visitor to my house, the first thing I do is to ensure my house is clean and has the needed facilities to make the person comfortable. So also, since I am preparing to welcome Jesus this Christmas, I must strive to go for confession to wash off my sinfulness and ensure that my heart remains pure and accommodating for Jesus.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, help me to prepare to receive you this Christmas. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (First Sunday of Advent. Year B. Bible Study: Isaiah 63:16-17, 64:1-8, 1st Corinthians 1:3-9 and Mark 13:33-37)

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