Monday, November 30, 2015

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Throughout my youth, my mom would always lament society’s urge to celebrate Christmas with no regard for the season of Advent. She would voice frustration over Christmas songs on the radio in November, Christmas trees up before December 1 and down by the 26, endless advertisements, and boundless pressure for the perfect holiday.

The messages of the world bombard us:

Read this quickly so you can catch the Cyber Monday deals!

Only 24 shopping days until Christmas remain!

Extended hours and Black Friday prices!  

Shop! Buy! Spend!

In our efforts to live up to these demands, we are consumed by shopping, parties, wrapping, cleaning, baking, mailing, decorating, and more shopping. We find ourselves filled with more debt, stress, exhaustion and stuff than hope, peace, and joy.

We celebrate Christmas without first celebrating Advent. We heed society’s demands and dismiss the call of Jesus, “Come after me!”

In today’s Gospel, on the feast of St. Andrew, the first apostle, we read Matthew’s account of the first summons:

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
At once they left their nets and followed him. 
He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. 
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father
and followed him (Matthew 4:18-22).

Like the first apostles, may we have the courage this Advent to leave aside the nets of the world that have caught us in the belief that more stuff leads to more joy. May we boldly jump out of the boats headed toward frustration and emptiness and into the waters that lead to Christ.

This Advent let’s prepare our hearts for the Incarnation instead of our homes for the holidays. Let’s spend more time praying and less money on gifts, more time creating memories with loved ones and less energy on the stress of the season.

He is in the Mass, not at the mall. He is in the Word, not in the worry. He is present in the Eucharist on the altar, not in the presents under the tree.

This Advent let’s fight for the space to hear His call, “Come after me.”

Leave everything behind, jump into the water, and follow Jesus!