The season of fall is probably one of my favorite seasons of nature. Leaves are changing, temperatures are dropping, the smells of pumpkin and different spices. I tend to find myself hiking more and drinking more coffee because I just wanna sit in these moments. Families are starting to make plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Farmers start harvesting their crops and the canning process is in full swing for most houses.
The season of Fall is a time of preparation. We see families prepare for the holidays and winter months, just as farmers are preparing their fields for the next season and selling their crops for the next year. Even nature is preparing for what is to come. Trees start to change color and lose leaves. Animals start to store food for the winter. How are we preparing for what is coming? We have the very real season of winter to prepare for with jackets, hat and mittens, hot chocolate and firewood. But how are we preparing for what is coming up spiritually? The season of winter has some beautiful liturgical seasons in Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter, with the first, Advent, being only two months away. Now Advent is a time of preparation by itself, but for what? It’s easy to sit here and say we’re preparing for the coming of Jesus, but are we really ready for that? Jesus loves us no matter what, but personally, I know I would like to grow a lot more in my relationship with Him before that time so when the time comes I can be with Him in a deeper way.
So how can we start preparing for the season of preparation? We can FALL-ow suit with nature. (Hehe. Get it? FALL-ow, like ‘follow’ but with the word Fall). The trees are being stripped of leaves and the animals are storing food. A prayerful reflection on these is necessary for this time of the year on how are we stripping ourselves and what is it we are storing? What places in our life is taking away from Christ? What things do we store that bring us comfort and not closer to Christ? The season of Fall is a beautiful time but it’s also a time of death in a sense. The trees losing their life and animals will be hibernating. As we reflect on our life how can we die to our self, as to rise to higher beauty when the season comes. Advent is a time to dive incredibly deep into a relationship with Christ but it’s also supposed to be a season of life and joy. How can we taste the richness of life and joy more fully? As we reflect, we should look to how the people in the bible prepare for the coming of Christ. We see Mary and Joseph of course, but we also have Zechariah, Elizabeth and St. John the Baptist.
These five are all stripped of something in a sense as to follow the will of God to prepare the way for Christ. Mary and her ‘yes’ to being the mother of God, sacrificed her image in the time. To bear a child before she was actually married could have shamed her family, Joseph could not have married her and risked her livelihood. But, by sacrificing her life, she bore, and birthed the living God into the world. Joseph surrendered his wife to God and took Mary as his life nonetheless. By doing this, He was able to be the earthly father to Jesus. Zechariah in preparation to glorify God for the miracle of John was stripped of his ability to speak. When time came and John was born all that could come from his mouth was praise. By sacrificing his voice and the freedom to name his son many including himself glorified God and drew them closer to him. Elizabeth was barren to help the way of Christ. She was given the gift of John late in life and glorified God for such an amazing gift. St. John the Baptist literally was given the mission of preparing the way of Christ by fasting and baptizing. He sacrificed much and was able to bring many close to God. They were all stripped of something that brought them comfort so as to rise when the time came to glorify, praise and love God more fully. As the angel Gabriel told Zechariah, “Do not be afraid.” (Mk 1:13) Change and sacrifice can be uncomfortable and hard but Christ rewards those who follow the way of the Cross.