“To predispose our mind to welcome the Lord who, as we say in the Creed, one day will come to judge the living and the dead, we must learn to recognize him as present in the events of daily life. Therefore, Advent is, so to speak, an intense training that directs us decisively toward him who already came, who will come, and who comes continuously.” ~ Saint Pope John Paul II
I have a great love for two popes: John XXIII and John Paul II. John XXIII was the pope of my very early childhood. He died when I was in kindergarten. Thus, when I got to St. Mary’s in Griffith for third grade, the sisters were talking all about him and we read books about Angelo Roncalli. The Second Vatican Council, which he conceived and opened, was still going on at that time. He had a great vision of what the Church could be and he was not afraid to “open the windows to let the Spirit in”.
John Paul II took his name from his predecessor who died early in his pontificate. The name was derived from the two Vatican II fathers: John XXIII and Paul VI. It was John Paul II’s way of saying that the work of Vatican II would continue. John Paul II had a great devotion to Jesus and to Mary. He prayed to them always and encouraged the faithful to do the same. He and John XXIII prayed and lived their lives reflecting personal relationships with the Lord. Jesus was more than a name in a prayer. He was a real person and a best friend to them. That was the appearance that they always gave others.
To welcome the Lord, we must first learn to recognize the Lord. That was John Paul II’s main thrust in today’s reading. He further stated that Advent is fertile training ground to recognize God. In our Advent devotions, in our prayers, in the Masses we celebrate, in the use of the Advent wreath at home for family prayer, and in a myriad of other ways, we concentrate more on the Lord and less on the world around us.
We prepare to celebrate the fact that Jesus came to us as a tiny baby and that He lived among us until the time that He ascended to heaven after the resurrection. We also remind ourselves that He will come again in glory. Those are the two-fold comings of Jesus that Christmas reflects. However, we need to remind ourselves constantly that Jesus is right here, right now. Do all that you can to recognize that great mystery.
FAITH ACTION: Try to recognize the God who dwells in all the people you encounter today.