Thanksgiving weekend, I was going through a drawer in my house where we keep miscellaneous items, and I ran across a magnetic car sticker that read, “Keep Christ in Christmas.” I decided to put it on my car and was reminded that, although I have a million things going on at home and school, the Christmas season is not about checking items or tasks off a list. Christmas is all about welcoming Jesus Christ into our lives once again.
The Catholic Church gives us the opportunity every year to bring Jesus to the forefront of our lives during Advent. Advent is a time when we prepare our hearts for the birth of Jesus. We are called to minimize distractions, develop an attitude of hope, and make Jesus a priority.
My father and mother understood the Church’s plan and tried to convey this to my sisters and I in our home as we grew up. We always sat together as a family every Sunday evening during Advent and lit the appropriate candle on the wreath, as we prayed and talked about how we could grow closer to Jesus. Sometimes, when we were young, I remember looking at my sisters and trying to make them laugh during the advent wreath reflection. It was my immature way of having some fun at my sisters’ expense. As I grew up, I realized that when we prayed together as a family, Jesus was present, and He helped us grow closer as a family.
As time passed, and my sisters and I each got married, my father gifted us with our own Advent wreaths. I continued the tradition my parents had started with my wife and with our children. My wife and I look forward to our prayer nights every Sunday during Advent. Incidentally, my sons also continued the tradition of trying to make each other laugh during the reflection, just as I had done as a boy.
This Advent has been particularly special because I have been able to gift my daughter and her husband with their own Advent wreath, as they celebrate their first Christmas together as a family. I hope and pray that my daughter, son-in-law, and my sons will keep Christ at the center of their lives always, and that they are reminded of the importance of keeping Christ in Christmas every Advent as they light their own wreaths and gather with their own families to pray.
I also pray that Jesus reside at the center of every Belen family and that we continue to grow in our faith and be the light that this world so desperately needs. May God bless us all, and may Jesus be born in our hearts again this Christmas so we can share Him with the world.