Christ abides in us

“...And we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” (John 14:23)

As we draw even closer to the glorious celebration of Christmas, we are again reminded of how God wants to dwell with us, specifically in our hearts.

The secularization of Christmas, especially in the United States, has had the unfortunate consequence of shifting the focus from Jesus, to presents. Christmas is meant to be a season of “receiving,” but not a season where we receive a multitude of gifts that we will use for one day and then throw in the trash.

Christmas is about receiving the Christ Child into our hearts and Advent is a time when we prepare our hearts for that reception.

A wonderful tradition that is practiced in many families is that of the straw crib. Parents typically instruct their children that in order to make a worthy crib for Jesus on Christmas Day, we must fill it with the straw of our sacrifices. Then each day a child makes a sacrifice and places a piece of straw in the crib. The hope is that by Christmas the crib will be full of the straw of sacrifices.

This is a great external expression of the internal preparation we need to have before celebrating the beautiful feast of Christmas. Christ wants to dwell within us and to make a dwelling in our hearts, but he cannot do that if our hearts are filled with “things.”

This is not to say that “things” are bad or the receiving of presents is evil. Presents are neither good nor bad, what matters is the heart of the giver and receiver. We must give presents from our heart and we must receive them with our heart. That is what makes Christmas a special time of the year.

Let us pray that as we conclude the Advent season, our hearts are ready to receive our King, who loves us so much, he wants to dwell within the deepest part of our being.

- Philip Kosloski
Writer and Content Manager
The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (USA)

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