One of my favorite parts of the Christmas season is being able to drive down the street and look at the dozens of houses with bright lights and fun decorations. My family and I try and point out the brightest houses and stare in awe as we think about the time and resources each household has put into radiating the Christmas spirit.
But sometimes that gets me thinking. People put so much work into making their houses shine bright with the Christmas joy, but how much effort do we put into prepping our spiritual lives to radiate the light of the newborn Jesus in the world? Just as the strands of Christmas lights become tangled and collect some dust while sitting in the attic, our lives take a beating as we go throughout the year.
Advent is a season that calls us to dust off our soul and fix the parts that are not shining the way they should, as well as go out of our way to bring others joy through our words and actions.
My school has a great Advent tradition that helps prepare me for the coming of Jesus. For the duration of the Advent season, a manger with paper hay is placed in front of a statue of the Blessed Mother. On every piece of hay, there is a simple sentence with a suggestion of a way we can prepare ourselves for Christmas.
They are always little things: smile at a person in the halls, write a note to someone who has touched your life. It is amazing what a change these small actions make in the life and the spirit of each person at the school.
We may not be able to pick ideas from the hay that Baby Jesus was laid in, but we can find ways to prep ourselves in what Jesus taught us through the Scriptures. We can follow the Beatitudes and live more simply. We can give what we have to those who have little. We can go to confession and be forgiven for what we have done wrong.
By making these changes and sticking with them, we will not only shine brighter than the brightest house on the block, but we will continue to radiate that shine throughout the Christmas season and beyond.