Make the Advent connection

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Second Sunday of Advent: Mk 1:1-8

But really, what are we preparing for this Advent? Are we preparing for a marathon shopping trip? Making a spreadsheet to schedule all that Christmas baking? Figuring out how to wrap the presents without interruption?

Or are we preparing for the arrival of our King? Have you told your children that a King is coming to visit? Actually, it’s more than a visit, He’s a permanent guest. If your preparations for Christmas are crowding in on you and you are losing focus on what it is that you are getting ready for, take a moment to sit with your family, read the Gospel and look at where the church takes us on this Second Week of Advent.

Advent is short this year (only 21 days). Now, almost at the halfway mark, we are told in the Gospel of Mark about the rather crazy-looking John the Baptist. Here is a guy who seems to be going to the extremes: clothed in camel hair, eating locusts and wild honey, baptizing people in the Jordan River. His presence is foretold in the First Reading from Isaiah, which says: “A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the Lord!” Not only is John the Baptist from the wilderness, he appears to be a bit of a wild character. But his wildness has a purpose and that is his urgent message. He is on a mission to urge people to be ready to receive the most important Person that will ever walk the earth -- the Son of God.

If you haven’t already, now is a good time to set up your Nativity scene. Make an event out of it. Build up the anticipation by hiding baby Jesus in a special spot until His “actual birthday.” A great way to build up some anticipation is to tell the story of Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast is Dec. 12. The Feast of Juan Diego is Dec. 9, but the two feasts are so connected it makes sense to have one celebration.

 

 

Plan your family’s favorite Mexican dishes for this night. If you have a sombrero in the house maybe one of the children can don the hat and tell the story of the peasant Mexican, who Mary to be a special emissary of her message of love and mercy to the Mexican people. Juan’s role was very much like that of St. John the Baptist, which makes this story perfect for Advent. He was a messenger — a humble, poor, unlikely one — who had to be brave before the bishop and those in power so he could bear witness to Christ and His Mother. This act of obedience resulted in the miracle of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe imprinted on Juan’s tilma (still visible today) and the conversion of a whole nation.

Another detail in the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe that makes it especially appropriate for Advent is that in her appearance to Juan Diego, she is pregnant. The manner of her dress, the black sash around her middle and the four-petal flower over her womb indicate pregnancy. Why did Mary appear this way? An expectant Mary reminded the Aztec people of the time, who were still steeped in practicing human sacrifice, that within her womb is the one, true sacrifice that God sent for all people.

To celebrate this beautiful feast day, there are many Mexican treats your family can enjoy. Go to Catholiccuisine.blogspot.com for some great ideas. Our family highly recommends the Mexican chocolate cake and the Mexican wedding cookies.

Taking the time to feast in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Juan Diego and other important saints can help us remember why we are counting down. It’s probably not the same reason the radio stations and Facebook are counting the days, but Christians have the best reason for all these preparations and countdowns — the arrival of their Savior. No reason for fear or panic this Advent. Jesus is the best house guest you will ever have.

Lazzuri is a mother of six and writes from her home in Nova Scotia.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017