A long time ago now, someone once gave my family an ornament for our Christmas tree. It was very curious: basically just a large nail hung from a green ribbon. You probably already know the significance of the nail: when looking at the manger, we remember the cross. When gazing on the Christmas tree, we remember the tree from which our Savior hung. The nail was a reminder that Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter are all part of the same mystery.
Saint John of the Cross is a good reminder of this truth. Born in Spain, he eventually became a Carmelite. He came to know a Carmelite nun by the name of Teresa of Avila, and through her urging, joined her in a reform of the Carmelite order. His great writings helped to accomplish this and are noted as spiritual masterpieces, and helped him to be recognized as a Doctor of the Church. But not everyone, of course, agreed with the reform of the order, and he paid the price for it by being imprisoned. In some ways, Saint John of the Cross reminds me more of Lent than Advent. But then, so does that nail ornament.
Even as we wrap ourselves in the hope and promise of Advent, we have to pause and remind ourselves of what the promise is all about. Jesus came to pay the very real price for our many sins. And that, dear brothers and sisters, is a gift of incomprehensible worth!