Pastor’s Weekly Message 12-1-19

Dear Friends of Carmel Mission,

As we begin our Advent Season, we prepare to welcome the Prince of Peace into our lives. I will be speaking and writing about this in the weeks during Advent. This weekend I’m sharing with you a beautiful reflection on Advent by one of our parishioners, Roger Fiola. Please enjoy:

Advent is the season of waiting, of expectancy, of hope. In the earliest days of Christianity the Greek word, Parousia, was translated into the Latin word, Adventis—words indicating the waiting for the Second Coming of Christ. The shortened form, Advent, was given to the first season of the liturgical year, the season of preparing the soul for the celebration of the Nativity of the Lord. The early Christians perhaps wanted us to be aware that there is a tie between the Coming of Christ at Christmas and the Coming of Christ again at the end of time.

Today, however, we are distracted from those earlier, purer messages. Daily, we are bombarded with so many advertising messages and so many messages period, that such nuanced, spiritual thoughts seem elusive, lost in a fog of emails and social media posts. Perhaps we sense this loss and that is why so many Christians criticize the commercialization of Christmas: how each year, it seems stores begin selling Christmas decorations in early autumn.

It is true, that retailers fight for the Christmas consumer dollars – as they always have and now, perhaps more aggressively than ever—yet what does that point to exactly? Costco wouldn’t have a single Christmas bulb on the shelf if people weren’t there to buy it. It comes down to human nature. People understand preparation for this significant holiday, even if they have no faith in Christ at all. They celebrate him without knowing they celebrate him! So what are they celebrating? What are we all celebrating together? I believe it is the Love that Christians name as God— and even the deniers and atheists are doing it! I know people of the Jewish faith, Islamic faith that still have a family celebration on Christmas Day. It’s wonderful in a way. It’s as if God is bringing ALL his family together at Christmas, no matter who they are or what they profess to believe. He doesn’t seem to care. He merely wants them at the “table”.

So even in the commercialization of Christmas, we can see the Light of the Spirit move through the garland and candy canes.

People love.

People prepare for the celebration of that Love.

And then, Christ comes again and again—true, not on the clouds as Scripture prophecies for the end times—but into our hearts as well as into the hearts of our children and grandchildren. The children are our teachers in this: they get it so easily because they don’t have all the thought-obstacles we adults throw in the way of faith. They enjoy the preparing, the expectation, and the excitement of the Christmas morning about to come. When that much love is present, it is difficult to believe that Christ isn’t there as well—no matter what creed you profess or even if you profess no creed. The Love of the Father is real and is gifted to us over and over again in the presence of His Son. As Catholics, we are fortunate to receive that Love directly in our bodies through the Eucharist, yet, as we all know, Love has many “delivery systems”! And the celebration of Christmas, even a “secular” Christmas, is still one of those delivery systems of Love.

Let us be mindful then as we move into this season of preparation. Let us understand and forgo our customary rants on the commercialization of Christmas and see it as the way— perhaps the only way— many, many people have to prepare in Love for the coming of Love again on Christmas Day. Perhaps this different way of seeing will place in our hearts each day the joy that surely abides in waiting for the Lord!

-Roger Fiola, Carmel, California 11/11/2019

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