On Sunday we will begin a new Church year with the start of the season of Advent, a season when we are called to watch, to wait, to be alert, to prepare for the coming of Jesus at Christmas and into our lives each day. It can be hard to do this, to make room to celebrate fully this most beautiful season, to make space for Jesus, in a world which bombards us with Christmas music, supermarket advertisements and ‘Black Friday’ deals as soon as, maybe even before, the costumes and masks of Halloween have been packed away.
But then isn’t it always a challenge to make room for Jesus, to keep him at the centre of our lives. We can find every excuse not to spend time with him. We can turn away from his loving gaze and think we can go it alone. So many things clutter our heads and hearts and so often we close the door on him just as swiftly as the innkeepers did all those years ago in Bethlehem.
Perhaps this Advent we could see it as an opportunity to begin again and prepare our hearts to make room for Jesus, not just for Christmas, but each day of our lives. How might we do this? To make room for Jesus in our lives is to place him at the centre of everything we think and say and do. And, to be able to do this, we are called to be pure in heart.
This Advent we invite you to look to Mary as the perfect example of one who was pure in heart, who was open to God’s will in her life, who in her yes to God, made room for her Saviour, her son. And Mary’s whole life was lived making room for Jesus. He was and is her focus. Mary was humble, never drawing attention to herself. Her gaze of pure love on the baby Jesus in the stable in Bethlehem was the loving gaze with which she held him as he hung on the cross in Calvary. From the pureness of her heart, she calls us to do the same, to look at Jesus with love, to place him at the centre of our lives, to see in those who need our help, our love, the vulnerable babe in the manger, the crucified Christ at Calvary.
This Advent, as Pope Francis says, “May the maternal gaze of the Blessed Virgin Mary, full of grace, all-beautiful and all-pure, accompany us at every step along the way.”
Our Advent overview and resources are available at
Derry Diocesan Catechetical Centre