Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God. Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood. (Hebrews 12:1-4)
And when this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written shall come about: “Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:54-57)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time. (1 Peter 1:3-5).
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)
I have loved you with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)
For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:13)
For the love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all; therefore, all have died. He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
During this grace-filled season of Advent, Jesus invites us as Catholic men to fix our eyes on him (Hebrews 12:2). It is so easy — in the midst of the busyness, commercialism, and many distractions leading up to Christmas — to lose sight of the many graces God wants to pour out this Advent and Christmas season if our eyes are upon him. After all, his eyes are always fixed on us, watching over every step we take, protecting and guiding us.
Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection cleared the way and paved a path for us that is filled with his peace, comfort, and joy. He has removed every obstacle that could hinder us from knowing and experiencing God’s great love for us. Not only did Jesus destroy the sting of death, he removed the chains of sin that hold us back (1 Corinthians 15:54-57). And not only did Jesus make a way for us, he made the destination so much clearer. He showed us heaven as our true inheritance (1 Peter 1:4). He showed us, too, that we don’t have to wait until we die to experience heaven. Every step along the way to heaven can become a taste of heaven as well!
The road may feel too hard or too long at times. We may feel unworthy of God’s love or protection. Or the memory of past hurts or disappointments may lead us to doubt God’s presence in our lives. But we should never let these thoughts divert our gaze from the Lord. Acts of faith— even stubborn faith that seems to defy logic—can help keep us moving forward on the road as we “persevere in running the race that lies before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
What should we place our faith in? First and foremost, that Jesus is always with us (Matthew 28:20) and that he always loves us (Jeremiah 31:3). And after that, we can place our faith in his promise to redeem everyone who calls on him (Romans 10:13). Just one step forward in faith will lead to another. And then another. And then another. And with each step, we will feel more and more of his deep love in our hearts!
St. Paul said that it was Christ’s love that impelled him do what he did and suffer for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). It is this love that will “impel” you and me to persevere in faith, always keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus and our heavenly inheritance. Then we will joyfully celebrate the coming of Christ this Christmas.
“Lord, help me to keep my eyes fixed on you this Advent and Christmas season. I want to persevere on the path—the holy way—that you have set before me.”
Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing me to adapt meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. Take some time to meditate and reflect on the Scriptures at the beginning of the article. What do you think God is trying to reveal to you through them?
2. The article mentions how easy it is to let the “busyness, commercialism, and many distractions leading up to Christmas” to keep us from keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus during this Advent season. What steps can you take to minimize these distractions and maximize the opportunities to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus?
3. The article also speaks of Jesus removing “every obstacle that could hinder us from knowing and experiencing God’s great love for us.” What are obstacles in your life that get in the way of your knowing and experiencing more deeply God’s great love for you? What can you do to help overcome them?
4. The article ends with these words: “St. Paul said that it was Christ’s love that impelled him do what he did and suffer for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). It is this love that will “impel” you and me to persevere in faith, always keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus and our heavenly inheritance. Then we will joyfully celebrate the coming of Christ this Christmas.” In what ways does Christ’s love impel you to live for him no matter what you are facing in your life? How can you make Christ’s love the center of your Christmas celebration for you and your family?
5. Take some time now to pray for the grace to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus as you and your family prepare to celebrate the coming of Jesus at Christmas. Use the prayer at the end of the article as the starting point.