Today is the first Sunday of Advent. It the beginning of the liturgical year. This is the season where we wait for Christ. We are trying to understand the waiting from the standpoint of those who awaited the actual birth of our Lord and hopefully will learn to prepare ourselves for the time when he returns.
Most people are busy at this time of year, very busy making lists for cards and gifts. They plan special holiday menus for family gatherings. They are waiting until the big day when they can present those they love with something that was just picked out for them. We are trying to prepare every detail for the Christmas that we see on television and in the stores. If we were truly preparing for Christ, then instead of those tasks, we'd be preparing our souls to get ready for Christ. We'd be prayerfully making a list of our sins so that we could offer them in confession, where in return we'd receive the gift of absolution. We'd be lifting our hearts to God's will for us. We'd try a little harder to say yes to all of the hard things that God might want us to do. We'd be living to serve.
When we serve God, we always seem to receive gifts in return. They are the most amazing gifts of all. They are not anything we would ever imagine. They are impossible to describe in a way that shows how great they really are. My favorite modern day servant was Mother Teresa. She lived her life for whatever God wanted her to do. He told her to serve the poorest of the poor. She founded her mission on Christ teaching that whatever you did to the least of these, you did unto me.
Mother Teresa cared for the dying, the lepers and orphans. She saw starvation and poverty that most Americans will never see. She warned Americans that their poverty was far greater and harder to deal with than the poverty in India. "The spiritual poverty of the western world is much greater than the physical poverty of our people', she said. She felt that there was a loneliness and emptiness among so many of our people. There is an absence of God. There are drugs and abortions and greed. All of these things are a desire to fill a void that only God can fill.
I have so loved Mother Teresa. I felt like I had learned so much from her teachings and yet right here in my own home, my son is one of "the least of these." He is spiritually impoverished. I am learning first hand just how difficult this type of poverty is to deal with. I am learning how little I really knew and how little I had really centered my life around Christ.
Along this journey, I have met a lot of alcoholics and addicts and their families. They are some of the most wonderful people I've ever met. I would have never looked in their eyes before to try and see the eyes of God, like Mother Teresa did to those she served in India. I would not have learned that it is most rewarding to do these hard things.
I am waiting for my son to hit bottom. I am waiting for him to want treatment. I am waiting for him to return to God. But, while I wait, I am going to prepare. I am going to take inventory of my sins and work on a plan to serve the spiritually poor. I am going to pray and study and wait. I am going to do what I can. As this gets tougher before it gets better, I am grateful because this means that we are moving closer to the bottom. We are moving closer to a place where miracles that only come from God can occur.
Today I am so thankful for God's presence in my life. I am thankful for the many gifts that God gives. I am thankful for this season of anticipation. I pray for all of you who pray for us. I pray for my son to softly hit bottom and have the courage to go back to treatment. I am so thankful for the example of Mother Teresa. And, as always I pray for Henry and all of you who have faced addiction. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.