During these weeks of waiting and anticipation to celebrate the Birth of Jesus, we are reminded of the need to prepare ourselves to spiritually receive our Lord. In St. Luke’s Gospel, we read that familiar story of John the Baptist calling the people of his time to a baptism of forgiveness and repentance. He was fulfilling the words of the great prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths…. All flesh shall see the salvation of God.’” (NAB, LK 3:4, 6)
But how do we prepare to receive the salvation being offered to us? Preparing for the Lord, making straight the crooked paths and smoothing out the rough ways in our lives is all about conversion. It means daily examining ourselves, looking deep inside our souls, finding those areas where we fail or where we can do better, and then changing how we live, with the help of God’s grace. Conversion is a daily process where we work to conform ourselves to Christ. A simple reflection, perhaps in the middle of the day and just before sleep, can change our lives dramatically. After intentionally bringing your mind into the presence of God, reflect on the day by giving thanks for your blessings, and then asking yourself: When did I experience God or feel drawn to him today? When did I miss these opportunities, and why? How did I violate God’s Law of Love? (Express true contrition and a desire to change.) How do I allow Jesus to be more fully present in my life? There are many forms of a Daily Examen, and practicing it is perhaps one of the most certain methods for staying prepared for our Lord.
Father, as I experience this time of waiting to celebrate the birth of your Son, Jesus, transform my heart so that it may be clean and clear of anything that prevents me from receiving you. Give me your grace and the persistence and courage to honestly reflect on my life, so as to rid myself of all that is contrary to your love. As I seek to do your will, may I become more conformed to Christ, for your greater glory. Amen.