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My dear friends, we are already into the third week of Advent, and Christmas is upon us. So, this is a good time to catch a breath if we have not already done so, to ask some basic questions about this life God has given to us. Who am I? Who is God for me? What does life on earth mean? Am I happy with where I am in life? Am I happy with where I am with God? Am I happy with where I am with others?” What sort of person ought I to be?

With all the commercialization, gift buying, and Christmas preparations, it is very easy to go through our days on auto-pilot, flowing with the flow on a journey of daily routines, sleep-walking through life and doing what we are doing without much reflection or paying attention to the true reason for this season—who we are, where we are going, and what we are all about. Scripture talks about the days of Noah when the people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark and they didn’t even know when the flood came and carried them all away, and then warns “So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man” (Ref. Matt 24:37-41).

It is good to remember that Advent is when we are challenged to wake up, stay alert, be evaluative of our lives, and be conscious of the many possibilities and opportunities that God is giving us to become better versions of ourselves. Advent is a time for us to see God's immensity in all creation by recognizing God’s work in our lives and in all that is created, thereby letting the sense of God pervade all things in, around, and within us. It is a time to live in the present and to stay awake and aware of what is happening right now, allowing the present moment to become the primary focus and realizing that the past is gone and the future is yet to be determined. It is a time to live with gratitude and gratefulness, allowing peace and joy to fill our hearts as we recognize that everything is okay because God is in control. It is a time to live a life of compassion and empathy, sensing and feeling the joys and pains of others, and being constantly aware of the impact of our actions and words in our environment. It is a time to recognize our worth in God and to graciously accept our identity as children of God while recognizing others to be so, refusing and rejecting all forms of discrimination, bigotry, bias, and hate. It is a time to recognize that what God has declared immoral, no man has power or authority to declare moral, and that because an act is declared legal, according to man, does not mean it is right in the eyes of God. It is a time to align our lives with God’s word, always mindful of the need to stay reconciled with God, with neighbor, and with the self; always seeking forgiveness from God for sins committed, asking forgiveness from those we have offended, and forgiving ourselves.

So, as we draw closer to the end of Advent and embrace the glory of Christmas, let us let go of baggage that is taking glory, joy, and peace out of our lives—regrets, past painful situations, addictions, negativities, behavioral excesses, hurts, losses, etc. Let us strive to acquire, through diligent effort, attitudes and virtues that make us better reflectors of God’s graces in the world. Let us embrace this Christmas not as a moment in history but as a call and invitation to transformation and virtuous living. May the good Lord find us doing right when He comes again, Amen!

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