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Saturday, December 10, 2005

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Sirach 48:1-4, 9-11
Psalm 80
Matthew 17:9, 10-13

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preparing to prepare for christmas

"Elijah has already come, but they did not recognize him." —Matthew 17:12

The prophetic ministry of Elijah prepared the way for John the Baptizer's prophetic ministry. John prophesied "in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Lk 1:17). Jesus even stated that John "is Elijah" (Mt 11:14). Elijah prepared the way for John, who came to "prepare the way of the Lord" (Mt 3:3). God prepared the way for His Son's coming for centuries. He sent prophet after prophet. He gave visions, warnings, and encouragements. In fact, the entire Old Testament points to the coming of Jesus, the Messiah.

If God, Who is all-knowing and always ready, spent centuries preparing for Christmas, then we, who know so little and are often unprepared for the future, surely need at least four weeks of Advent to prepare for Christ's Christmas coming. We need Elijah's ministry of fire (Sir 48:1, 3) to burn away the "holiday" distractions and fill us with the fire of the Holy Spirit to be prepared to welcome Jesus. We need to be immersed in John's "baptism of repentance" this Advent (Mk 1:4). Our sincere Advent Confession removes "speed bumps" of sin (see Lk 3:5), which prevent us from being quick to welcome Jesus. Instead of preparing for the "holidays" by attending Christmas parties, we need to prepare for "Christ-Mass" by attending Christmas banquets, that is, the Mass, the eucharistic banquet of the Lamb. "Prepare the way of the Lord" this Advent, and have the Christmas of a lifetime.

Prayer:  Father, this Advent, may I "learn to value the things that really matter" in life (Phil 1:10). I devote my life to seeking Jesus.

Promise:  "Give us new life, and we will call upon Your name." —Ps 80:19

Praise:  Sarah prepared for Christmas by celebrating the sacrament of Reconciliation and encouraging others to do the same.

Reference:  (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 19, 2005

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