Our Spiritual Warm-Up
Fourth Sunday of Advent
December 21, 2014
LK 1:26-38

People who are faithful to exercise appreciate the value of “stretching” or “warming up” before jumping into their workout. In a way, that’s what the Season of Advent is all about; our lap around the Advent wreath is a spiritual warm-up. Over the course of four weeks, we stretch our religious imagination by reminding ourselves of the promises God made to us through the holy prophets. We turn to St. Paul, who coaches us on how to “warm up” our spiritual life, so that we are fit and ready to celebrate The Birth of Jesus Christ. We listen closely to four carefully selected passages from the Holy Gospel proclaimed at Sunday Mass so as to build spiritual enthusiasm for the sprint to the finish line.

And it’s there…at the finish line…Christmas Eve…with our warm-up complete, that we need all of the energy we have been building over the season of preparation. On Christmas Eve, we rely on our Advent training in order to make an unimaginable leap of faith.

Think of it this way: For many people, Christmas is simply a winter holiday. For Christians, it is a day when we celebrate the truth that an Eternal Word was spoken by our Creator into the finite, human body of a young woman, who willingly agreed…through the power of the Holy Spirit…to give birth to The Word made flesh…Jesus Christ. We believe that on Christmas, The Word of God took Flesh and dwelt among us. That is a leap of faith!

God prepared Mary in a very special way for her unparalleled leap of faith. Last week, December 8, we celebrated the truth that from the moment of her conception, The Blessed Mother was totally free from sin. Obviously, very few of us can come remotely close to her degree of holiness. But through our Sacraments and the traditions of our faith…including a committed observance of the preparatory season of Advent, we can “stretch ourselves.”

If you haven’t joined the family of faith in our annual walk around the Advent wreath, there is still time to “warm up.” And a “warm-up” is essential if we are to be able to make the leap of faith that carries us into a reality that is almost too big for us to wrap our minds and our lives around. But that is exactly what God is calling us to do.

Like Mary, God is asking us to wrap our minds around the truth that God has a plan that will end in perfect and everlasting joy for those who believe. That requires some “spiritual stretching.” And, like Mary, we are called by God to become participants in this plan. Even as Mary was invited to become Jesus’s mother, we are invited to wrap our lives around the Gospel, giving our very flesh to the Eternal Word…and then carrying it out into a world in desperate need of The Good News that…CHRIST THE SAVIOR IS BORN!

There are now four candles burning on the Advent wreath…Come and “warm up!”