Many things stir great hope, excitement, and anticipation in each of us. Many places, events, and activities canceled during the pandemic over the past year and a half have reopened. Many can travel to take a muchneeded break or visit families and friends. We continue to pray that the pandemic will be entirely behind us.Here in Florida, the weather is getting much nicer every day, which gives us the feeling that Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner. Many people have told me that this is their favorite time of the year because it is filled with anticipation. There is something joyful coming our way.
We need the spirit of anticipation during this advent season. Advent has always been a happy time, even when things are difficult, because there is something special about Christmas and the coming of the Messiah. We all know what Jesus can bring into our lives. One of them is peace. We can truly be joyful when we have peace.
Advent reminds us to put aside our fears, worries, and sinfulness that cripple us and steal our peace. Jesus says that we must prepare to meet him. We are to prepare not only for parties, concerts, and other external celebrations for Christmas but, above all, the purity of our souls,where Jesus dwells in our life. The second reading today encourages us to prepare our hearts for Jesus…may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all…to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus… (1 Thes 3:1213)
We need peace in our lives. We hear the word “peace” many times, but it seems only when we are in trouble or experience other worrisome circumstances that we value the laughter and the eternal gifts that God offers to us that bring tremendous peace in our lives. Think about how we feel when we are not preoccupied with worries and fears over the things of this world.What better gift can we give to ourselves when we open our hearts to receive Christ’s spiritual gifts into our lives. We can only accept these gifts when we create a space in our hearts to receive his peace, especially during this Advent season.
So, this Advent, let us ask ourselves questions. What are those things that keep us apart from Jesus? What are those things that we worry about in life? Advent is a time to leave sin and other irrelevant things in life behind so that we can stay vigilant and be filled with anticipation, peace, hope, joy, and love.

Fr. Dennis Gonzales