Advent shows us the way

About 12 months ago, as 2020 approached, we thought that the new year would be a perfect one, one with 20/20 vision.

What can we say now when this year is about to end?

We can say that 2020 was, in fact, a perfect year for all that we experienced, and yet never expected. Something invisible to the human eye, a virus, paralyzed the world and created social unrest, loss of jobs and church closings. The situations made this year brought countless challenges in all aspects of our lives: in our faith, economy and health -- both physical and emotional. The situation brought challenges in the education of our youth.

As we close the liturgical year, a new one begins. It’s marked by the season of Advent, a season that calls us to prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Advent is a time of preparation.

We hope that in the new year everything will improve, that we will find the vaccine that will control the virus. Everyone hopes for peace, security and progress. But how can this be possible?

The season of Advent shows us the way. All of us can discover the personal responsibility to prepare well for the year ahead. How? Beginning with prayerfully and carefully living a personal advent -- the kind that prepares our hearts to receive our savior, Jesus.

By initiating a personal and sincere dialogue with Jesus, we will discover our true talents and limitations, sins and prejudices.

In this humble way, our hearts will become a manger, the manger in the stable in Bethlehem that makes room for the light, the peace and the reconciliation with Jesus.

There, in that manger, we will discover reconciliation with ourselves because we will have experienced the encounter with the one who is love -- the medicine that affirms our talents and counteracts the virus of sin, indifference, selfishness and prejudice.

Then, with healthy hearts, souls, and minds, we will open ourselves to a sincere dialogue with our neighbor, where there is mutual respect, that offers friendship, an ear that knows how to listen and lips that express words full of wisdom and of him -- love.

The main objective of this dialogue is to live the commandment to love God and neighbor. In other words, the main goal is to receive each human person as a gift from God -- as a reflection and presence of Jesus among us.

Let’s not think that it is others who first need to live this Advent preparation. No! It’s each one of us who has to say “yes” to the invitation to a personal encounter with Jesus so that we allow the process of conversion deep in our hearts. Thus, transformed and freed from our prejudices, fears and resentments, we can open the door to a true dialogue with others.

How would we act if we met Jesus? Well, we meet him when we meet our neighbor.

May this time fill us with hope and lead us to a renewed encounter with Jesus and our neighbor.

The future can only be built with love!