Recognizing and welcoming Christ

Fr. Richard Steinhilber
December 22, 2010

In the opening words of St. John’s Gospel we read, “He was in the world that had come into being through him and the world did not recognize him.” Today there are millions who do not know him.

“He came to his own and his own people did not accept him.” Today there are Christians who do not recognize him.

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‘But to those who did accept him he gave power to become the children of God.” Please God, we are those who know him, accept him and welcome him into our hearts this Christmas. This is the purpose of Advent – to prepare our minds and hearts to accept and welcome the Lord ever more fully and completely into our lives. We do this by prayerfully reflecting on the Comings of Christ during the weeks of Advent.

The first coming was marked with humility, stillness and poverty – “wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’ The second coming will be one of majesty and glory, “escorted by all the angels, he will take his seat on his throne of glory…” In the first his divinity was hidden. In the second his humanity will be hidden. The first is a past event not to be repeated. The second is a future event yet to be fulfilled.

But there is a third coming, an intermediate one, an invisible one, the result of the first and second comings of Christ. We are encouraged to see this third coming through the prism of the first and second, our hearts full of wonder and awe and gratitude for all that God has done for us in the past, for all he will do for us in the future and for all he is doing for us here and now.

This third coming takes place in the Church especially through the sacraments and particularly through the Eucharist. “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.” That is why we celebrate Christmas with a Christmas Mass and this is why during the weeks of Advent we prepare to welcome him in our hearts once again on Christmas Day.