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Advent is a season of preparation for Christmas and the season of Christmas. As Catholics, we do not celebrate Christmas as one day on the calendar, check off some sort of box and then proceed with the rest of our lives as if Jesus’ incarnation somehow does not affect us today.

The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Everything God the Father wants to say to us today, he says through his Son, who lives in us because of our baptism. It is important that in these last days of Advent and throughout the Christmas season, we make time to pray and to listen to what Jesus is saying to us. We can find help from the infancy narratives in the first few chapters of both Matthew and Luke.

In the final days of the Advent season, recall John the Baptist, the voice of one crying out in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord.

Read: Matthew 3:11: The one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire.

Reflect and pray: Where do I need repentance in my life? What thoughts, words or actions in my life prevent me from seeing how near Jesus is? Jesus, the one whom the world longs for, help me to prepare my life for your arrival. 

On Christmas, recall the shepherds, who receive the good news with joy and worship the Lord.

Read: Luke 2:10-11: The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.”

Reflect and pray: Am I caught up in the commercial side of Christmas, or do I realize the true gift our world has been given in Jesus? Do I share with others the gift that Jesus is to me? Jesus, you know and love me better than I know and love myself. Help me to make you known to all those I love.

On the feast of the Holy Family (Dec. 29), recall St. Joseph, who speaks to us profoundly by his silence. He never utters a single word in the Scriptures but simply listens, hearsand responds.

Read: Matthew 1:24: When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

Reflect and pray: How well do I listen in prayer, especially at this busy time of year? How often do I insist on my own way and ignore a prompting of the Holy Spirit to do God’s will? Jesus, the Incarnate Word, help me to hear your voice clearly and respond faithfully.

On the solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God (Jan. 1), recall Our Blessed Mother, who ponders the Word of God in her heart and conceives the Word of God in her womb.

Read: Luke 1:35: And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”

Reflect and pray: What part of the mission to unleash the Gospel has God entrusted to me? Do I pray for the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit to guide me in my vocation? Jesus, your coming into the world is not only the Good News, it is the best news. Give me the gift of the Holy Spirit and the joy of sharing the Gospel with someone during the Christmas season.

On the feast of the Epiphany (Jan. 5), recall the Magi from the east, who journey from afar to worship the King.

Read: Matthew 2:9-10: The star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star.

Reflect and pray: Is there a family member or a friend I need to invite to Christmas Mass? Is there a person in my life I need to forgive or ask forgiveness from in the new year? How do I respond to the people in my parish who come to Mass only on Christmas? With generosity and hospitality, or with impatience and judgment? Jesus, for whom there was no room at the inn, help me to make room for others in my parish and my home this Christmas season.

On the feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Jan. 12), we come full circle to John the Baptist and Jesus himself. We recall the day of our baptism when we were called beloved sons and daughters of the Father.

Read: Luke 3:21-12: Heaven was opened and the holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Reflect and pray: Do I define myself by my success or failure — what I do, where I live, how much I earn or what others think of me? Or do I know my deepest identity is as a beloved son or daughter of God? Do I live my life for God, my Father, as an heir of all that has been promised to me through Jesus? Jesus, the only Begotten Son of God, teach me to live as a son or daughter of the light.