1st Sunday of Advent
● Isaiah 2:1-5 ● Psalm 122 ● Romans 13:11-14 ● Matthew 24:37-44 ●
[__01] Stay awake. I say “stay awake” not only as a reminder to you at this the listeners to this 1st Sunday of Advent Gospel and homily at ____ Mass on November ____. I say “stay awake” not only out of politeness or etiquette.
“Stay awake” is a reminder, a Post-It note, a scheduled alert to me as well. Stay awake.
[__02] Isn’t it particularly difficult, at times, to be stationary, to sit still, while also remaining awake, alert?
It’s particularly difficult when we are in school, in college, or if were to attend some educational or instructional seminar. In the classroom, to stay awake is difficult though we are straining with all our effort to pay attention. I have hit the SNOOZE bar in class, perhaps we all have, especially in a nice comfortable seat it in the back of the room.
Yes, the teacher can see us back there too.
[__03] Vigilance and alertness were difficult for the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemani.
Jesus asks his disciples to watch and pray. Then, they fall asleep and Jesus says, “could you not stay awake with me for one hour?” (__ref_)
[__04] This alertness and wakefulness are important themes of our Advent journey, our four Sundays and weeks of Advent, as we prepare for Christmas.
[__05] Years ago, I recall a camping trip of several days in the mountains. Due to very heavy rain weather and slow travel and mud, we were walking on our final day in pitch darkness to our final campsite.
Vigilance and watchfulness were necessary to avoid danger, slips, falls. We had a local guide who helped us. He made torches for us out of tree branches and bamboo.
These torches were very effective. And, I recall the effort he made to create them for us.
At one point, near the end, I had to catch myself on a slippery surface. The guide asked if I was OK. Very abruptly, impolitely, and without any gratitude, I told him I was “fine.”
In fact, we needed his help every step, to see what we could not see.
[__06] What does it mean to “watch and pray”?
Advent reminds us to await the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the Second Coming which we cannot see.
Nevertheless, we know that he came once into the world. We know that he is present to us through the Gospel, through our prayer, through Holy Communion, and the sacraments.
We are asked to be vigilant for his arrival, especially when it is hard to see, when we are in the dark, or in distress.
[__07] St. Paul reminds us that we cannot see is eternal. What we can see is passing away, is transitory.
We are presented with the difficult to see, the hard to see everyday. In this darkness, our Lord is present and coming to us. Are we alert?
[__08] Yes, it is a challenge to be stationary, sit still, and remain awake.
Isn’t this alertness and stillness especially difficult when we are experiencing a crisis or a difficulty.
We may want to react, change things, or fix things.
But, there may be nothing to change. Rather, there may be something unseen to discover.
[__09] [↓ HEALTH & COMPASSION] This stillness is an important value to consider for example …. if we were to care for a loved one in declining health (his or her beauty may now be unseen or obscured by illness). Jesus is arriving, am I awake?
[CORRECTION, ADVICE, RXN OF OTHER] This stillness is an important value to consider for example if we were to offer someone a necessary correction advice which is difficult to communicate. The goodness of what we do might be unseen, unrecognized. Jesus is arriving, am I awake?
[RECEIVING ADVICE, DOCILITY, BEING TEACHABLE] This stillness is an important value to consider for example if someone were to correct you or correct me or offer advice when we believe that we are in the right. Can I see the truth, welcome truth? Can I recognize what is unseen? Do remain “teachable” even in the midst of an examination? Or, do I assume that I have all the answers? Jesus is arriving, am I awake?
[__10] [ (V), ADVENT FAITH, BELIEVE IN THE UNSEEN …. STAY AWAKE ] This is our Advent faith, to believe in the unseen, to express faith that Christ has come and that he will come again.
We are called not only to believe that he will come, but also with our ACTIONS, our ENTHUSIASM, and our JOY, to recognize his arrival.
He may surprise us. As says to all of us, that we must be prepared, we must stay awake. (cf. Matthew 24:37-44) [__fin__]