Now that it’s December, everyone is in the Christmas mood. The Christmas music is blasting, the Christmas lights and decorations are flashing, people are frantically gift shopping, and, most importantly, Starbucks is selling it’s signature peppermint mocha once again. And while all that can sometimes be nice, we all know that that is not at all what Christmas is about. Often with all these distractions and with finals season, it can be hard to focus on how to use the advent season properly. But by looking at what the Holy Bible says about the birth of Christ and about Christ’s purpose on earth, we can learn how we ourselves should act to properly celebrate this season.
The Bible mentions several people who came to worship Christ when He was born: the shepherds and the wise men. The gospel of Luke says, “then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them” (Luke 2:20). Additionally, the angels were singing, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14). What is the common trend here? As soon as Christ was born, everyone glorified God.
Even Christ Himself aimed to glorify the Father through his ministry on earth. Just before He was about to be crucified, He prayed, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You” (John 17:1). He also said “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” (John 17:4)
Even in liturgy we say, “let us praise with the angels ‘glory to God in the Highest, peace on earth, and goodwill towards men’”. So, essentially, the whole idea that Christmas should be celebrated everyday is here, in that we consistently aim to glorify God and love others.
And so we should properly celebrate the advent season by aiming to glorify God. But how do we do this? Christ said in John 15:8, “by this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” and in Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
So it is clear that in order to glorify God through our actions, we must bear much fruit and let our light shine. But what does this mean practically? It means loving others and preaching both through our actions and our words. When we act with love no matter the circumstance, people will realize that there is a reason for this stark difference, and may come to know God through us. St. Peter says “that they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).
Another aspect of this is to try to incorporate God in everything you do. It can be something small like saying “Thank God” instead of “I’m so glad that…” or “God-willing” instead of “Hopefully”. Some other small things can be drawing crosses at the top of papers, or telling someone “I’ll pray for you.” Even though these can be small and sometimes awkward, they bring to you the remembrance of God and they can expose other people to Christianity as well. Of course something larger than this can be using a gift or talent to serve God. St. Peter says, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever” (1 Peter 4:11). About this topic St. Nektarius of Aegina says “A Christian must be courteous to all. His words and deeds should breathe with the grace of the Holy Spirit, which abides in his soul, so that in this way he might glorify the name of God. He who regulates all of his speech also regulates all of his actions. He who keeps watch over the words he is about to say also keeps watch over the deeds he intends to do, and he never goes out of the bounds good and benevolent conduct.” So, in all you do whether small or large try to incorporate God into it in order to glorify God through your words and actions.
Another important aspect is to minimize any division or quarrelling with others. We are called to be in unity with all the Church around the world through Christ. By being of the same mind, it is clear that we can glorify God. St. Paul says in Romans: “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5).
Now, in order to not be quarrelsome, humility is needed since you must be willing to let someone else do what they want rather than your own will. But humility is also important because, the less you glorify yourself, and the more you empty yourself, the more space there is to glorify God. This is exemplified again by St. Peter who says, “ if you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified” (1 Peter 4:14). Of humility St. Philaret says, “Nothing is more opposed to God than pride, for self-deification is concealed in it, its own nothingness or sin. Thus more than anything humility is acceptable to God, which considers itself nothing, and attributes all goodness, honor, and glory to God alone. Pride does not accept grace, because it is full of itself, while humility easily accepts grace, because it is free from itself, and from all that is created. God creates out of nothing. As long as we think that we can offer something of ourselves, He does not begin His work in us. Humility is the salt of virtue. As salt gives flavor to food, so humility gives perfection to virtue.” Therefore, we must aim to be of one mind, and to be humble.
† Now let us pray that God-willing we may Glorify God in all that we do this season. †