As we begin the Advent season and recall the celebration at Greccio with the living Nativity this evening, it is important for us to reflect on our own lives and how we live everyday through God. In the small town of Greccio in the Reiti region of Italy, St. Francis of Assisi created the one of the first Christmas cribs. He remembered the manger he had seen years ago in Bethlehem and he wanted to recreate it. St. Francis recreated the scene in a cave in nearby Greccio. The news of the crib traveled throughout the town, and soon, people were traveling to the sight with torches and candles. There was a Mass held, and St. Francis himself gave the sermon. St. Francis stood over the manger overcome with love and a wonderful happiness. The crowds who had joined to see the crib and listen to his sermon were filled with joy and a great celebration followed.
Often, we find ourselves so concerned with being happy. Material possessions, electronics can briefly fill us with happiness and then we ask ourselves, what now? If you find this Advent season, that you are often asking, what now? Jesus is the answer. We underestimate the power of prayer. On social media after a devastating event, I sometimes see people post things like, “We need laws, not prayers”. Have we forgotten Jesus?
During this Advent season, we can wake up and thank God everyday for another day. We can ask for special intentions. We can ask Jesus to take our worries and help us to leave them with him. Jesus wants to talk with us everyday.
In the Gospel today, we hear, “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” By praying everyday, we can remain close with Jesus and he will prepare us for what trials we will face. That makes me feel so incredible! He will take our worries away. We are so often thinking about what will make us happy and Jesus is right in front of us waiting to fill that empty space in our hearts.