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December is a hectic and stressful month for many of us, but it is the most cheerful, exciting, wonderful time of the year because of the holidays and festivities! It surprises us with a sense of wonder and a sense of giving. As we come closer to Christmas and New Year, we should strive to make our lives significantly better, by clearing a pathway and preparing our hearts to welcome Child Jesus to be born in us, once again.

As we enter more profoundly into the third week of Advent, also known as “Gaudete Sunday” (rejoice) - our hearts are rejoicing for Christmas is drawing near, and His coming is closer at hand. We look into the depth of our hearts and examine our spiritual and moral lives. During this crucial period of preparation, the Church demands us to be patient, more attentive to the Word of God and show our genuine love and charity towards others, which will lead us into a joyful Christmas and New Year. It is an appropriate time to bring our hearts to a mode of penance and anticipation, before the Christmas Eve Mass.

It is easy for us to lose sight of the significance and meaning of the four-week Advent. I myself have realised that I haven’t spent much time in prayer this Advent. Even though I have attempted to be with the Lord in prayer and meditation, I was somehow carried away with my priestly duties. For the past couple of days, I have been visiting the homebound, administering the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Anointing of the Sick and distributing the Holy Eucharist to the elderly and the sick at home and at hospitals. It was wonderful to visit them once again, and I hope that they may find wholeness, acceptance, affirmation and peace.

During the season of Advent, we celebrate a most prominent feast - the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception - which falls on 8 December every year. The Immaculate Conception is about Mary’s pure (holy) conception from the time she was the tiniest baby in her mother’s womb. She was preserved from sin through the Grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit and she was born free from the stain of original sin. She was sinless all through her life. It was a great gift to us that God honoured Mary by choosing her to be the Mother of Our Lord Jesus.

On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, we placed the most prominent figurines in the Christmas Crib - Mary, Joseph and Angel Gabriel. These figurines help us to reflect the mystery of God’s love that was revealed in humility and poverty – “although He was rich, He became poor for your sake, so that you should become rich through His poverty,” (2 Cor 8:9).

We pray and hope this Christmas will be more energetic, enthusiastic and spirit-filled, so that our lives will be blessed with joy and peace from God. We continue to remain in watchful and joyful expectation for the Lord to come – “Come, Lord Jesus! Come and visit your people. We await your coming. Come, Lord Jesus!”

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