Prepare this Advent for the Coming of the King
By Bishop David J. Malloy
This Season of Advent is a time for preparation. Of course we are preparing for Christmas. But at the same time we are preparing for our own unveiled encounter with Christ when He comes again in glory. 
The preparation for those two moments is in many ways the very same because, properly understood, both are moments of meeting Jesus.
As we get ready for Christmas, our task becomes one of self-examination. That examination particularly involves our spiritual life and our soul. 
During this season we should place ourselves among the shepherds and the wise men who surround the mother and child as a very worthy spiritual exercise of reflection and imagination. But in order to do this we need to ask ourselves about our spiritual preparation.
Am I living close to Jesus now in my life? Have I accepted His words and teaching, found in the Scriptures but also in the Catholic Church? 
Am I fervent and regular in my worthy reception of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist as part of Mass attendance each Sunday and regular confession of my sins?
What about acts of charity? Am I helping with the poor and the needy where and when I encounter them? 
Am I attentive to family and neighbors and to any needs that I can help with even if I have to inconvenience myself?
Of course the list could go on. Each of us, by reflecting on our own spiritual situation, could be moved by the Holy Spirit to an individualized reflection to highlight where in our lives we are doing well and where we need grace and strength to be better prepared to meet the Lord.
With that preparation, we can open our hearts to learn from the shepherds. They were called unexpectedly by the angels to come and meet the newborn King. They were the first among us who laid eyes on God made visible.
As powerful as that witness of the angels was for them, it was still an act of faith for them to understand what they found in the place where Jesus was. 
There, they were confronted with a scene that was exceptionally ordinary to human senses — a poor mother holding her newborn son with the foster father looking on. What could be more earthly? More normal?
Yet the shepherds clearly felt the presence of God. They must have entered into the holiness that surrounds the birth of Jesus. 
The Gospel of Luke tells us that afterward they “made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.” In essence, poor and uneducated as they probably were, they went forth to witness to the world. (Lk 2: 17-18).
Likewise, had we accompanied the three wise men, we would have seen powerful and wealthy individuals leave their comfort and homelands to search for a good that exceeded any earthly blessing. 
Their goodness aided them in outwitting the worldly guile of King Herod. How much benefit it would have done for our own souls to kneel with them as they offered their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The point is that in joining those first members of the human race who adored the newborn Jesus, we should have felt motivated to prepare spiritually for that encounter. 
Similarly, when Jesus comes again in power and glory we will want to have prepared by a lifetime of witnessing to Him and by a detachment from the comforts and honors of this world that lead us away from Christ.
Please use this Advent to pray, repent, go to confession and generally prepare for the coming of the King. The shepherds and the wise men give us all an excellent model of where to start and how to be ready to meet Christ in the circumstances of our own lives.