There are only 15 days left before Christmas. As the calendar ticks off successive days in December, now it’s stress and panic that build. The list of what still needs to be accomplished casts a long shadow across the shrinking amount of time to accomplish it all.
The first evident signs typically start on the weekend after Thanksgiving. Many put up their Christmas lights while the weather is still relatively temperate.
There are also those who are very organized, who conduct their Christmas shopping throughout the year. When they see something that looks like the perfect gift for someone they know, they purchase it immediately. All of their gifts are safely wrapped and squirreled away before the first of December. Others do their entire gift shopping on the day before Christmas.
Then there’s John the Baptist. John calls us to an altogether different type of preparation. His tone is decidedly harsh. He calls the gathered crowd a “brood of vipers.” If they don’t shape up, he says, they’ll be brought down like a tree. John doesn’t mince his words. John is on a mission. There’s a time for urgent warning. John’s warning cry has the urgency of one who is raising an alarm. He speaks sharply out of tough love. Change or else.
This is the plea of John the Baptist. The time is now! With urgency, John appeals that we set our hearts right. Is there any more vital place to prepare for Christmas than in our hearts?
For Christmas, the light of the World comes into darkness. We look to grace and the fullness of divine love. A love without end. A love of charity and peace, love that brings reconciliation to all, despair into hope, sorrow into joy, love that has the power to transform.
Christmas preparation calls us to let this divine light shine in our hearts and fills the darkened crevices within.
John proclaims his message in the wilderness. People come to listen and they heed his message. “What shall we do.” It’s a question we must ask in our Christmas preparation.
John’s message of repentance is as relevant for us as it was for the crowds who heeded his words. John calls us to turn. He points in the direction of our neighbors, to share what you have and be content with what is yours. In finding our neighbor, we shall see the face of Christ.
Joy is found in sharing what we have, in loving our neighbor and in finding contentment with the blessing we have received.