The Perfect Gift

Today begins the liturgical season of Advent, during which the Church prepares to receive the fullness of God’s promise. We recall the centuries and millennia when the world awaited the arrival of our Lord and Savior. There is also an intensifying of the Church’s expectations for the future as we reflect on what it means to be prepared for the second coming of Christ. Thus, in Advent the Church looks backward and forward, while living also in the present moment.

In the cycle of readings chosen for this year, we hear an urgency, almost a command that seems to be exactly the tone we need in the hectic world in which we live. Mark’s Gospel for this first Sunday of Advent urges to “be alert,” to be “watchful.” It seems the right invitation during a time when we are tempted by the many distractions that make us so easily forget the real meaning of Christmas. What is involved in adopting Advent’s interior disposition of a confident peaceful waiting for Jesus to come again? It begins by remembering that which is most important about Christmas – the one and only gift that matters the most has already been given. God gave us his only Son, and in that Son we find the perfect gift.

This theme of the perfect gift is the focus of the archdiocese’s annual Advent evangelization initiative. Find the Perfect Gift is a reminder to people that the celebration of Christmas is a celebration of love – God’s love for all his people and the many ways that loved is shared in families, among friends, through individuals and groups who reach out to the most vulnerable and poor to insure they have food, warm clothes and gifts to share.

As you drive around over the next few weeks and engage in social media and listen on the radio, you will see banners and promotional spots and hear ads that invite people to find that perfect gift of Jesus in prayer, in reflection, at Mass and in reaching out to our brothers and sisters most in need. You can also visit for resources to help adopt an attitude of watchfulness and be alert to where and how you can share the gift of love that God first shared with you, including a series of spiritual reflections by some of our priests and videos that celebrate the richness of Advent and Christmas traditions in the many ethnic communities that make up our spiritual family. Advent wreaths can be downloaded as well as a resource for daily prayer for the family.

The cultural demands of this time need not distract us from being alert to the presence of the Lord here and now and to the confident hope we can have in knowing that at the first Christmas, the Word made his dwelling among us, and he is already with us “always, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:20).