First Sunday of Advent

Our spiritual life is like driving a car. We can be going about our business, attempting to live our faith, but taking things for granted. Warning signs are often ignored. These signs might be slacking off from church attendance, letting some things into our homes or lives that are questionable, inappropriate or even unchristian. Maybe we are exercising less control over our tempers. Or perhaps, we are not making as much time for prayer as we need. Suddenly, we fall asleep. Temptation is there, but we don't have enough spiritual energy to resist. If we are blessed, we wake up in time to realize that we are destroying the spiritual life of our baptism. But it could happen that we don't wake up and sleep forever in our sins, spiritually dead[1].

Perhaps we fall asleep missing the opportunities the Lord provides for us to experience His Presence and provide His Presence, His Love and Compassion, to others. Sometimes we get so involved in what we are doing that we forget why we are doing it.

My brothers and sisters: we need to stay awake.

Stay awake is the theme for this First Sunday of Advent. The Master of the house is the Lord. His coming is at the end of our lives to determine our capacity to receive an infinite share of His love. If He come and finds us ready and waiting, the door of our life open to His Presence, then we have nothing to worry about. If He comes and finds us spiritually asleep with the doors of our lives firmly closed to Him, then we face an eternity of coldness and hatred, an eternity without love. That is what hell is.

And so we stay awake, and we watch. We watch for the Divine Healer to come and lead us into His Love. We watch for the times, more than we could imagine, when God extends His Love to us. We watch for the times when we serve His Love by serving others. We watch for the opportunities to unite ourselves closer to His Love through prayer and sacrifice. We wait. We watch. We watch for opportunities to grow. Advent, the time of watching reminds us that our entire lives must be a watching for ways that we can grow more spiritual, grow closer to Christ.

We long for Jesus’ presence. If we deny this need, this necessity for God to be in our lives, then we chance becoming useless shells, Christians on the outside, but not much on the inside. But if we fight off our inclination to embrace chaos, if we fight off being overwhelmed by the fluff of Christmas and allow our need for Christ to transform our lives, then we can be what He created us to be, images of His Love on earth. We can be whole. We can be Christians.

Advent is the season of hope. The promise of the prophets will be fulfilled. The Messiah will come to return the world to God’s original plan. Our thirst for the Messiah will be quenched not just on December 25th, but every day of our lives.

We wait.
We watch.
We stay awake.

To the extent that we do this well, to the extent that our lives are a celebration of the presence of Christ in the world, to that extent, our entire lives are a celebration of Christmas ■

[1] Sunday 30th November, 2008, 1st Sunday of Advent. Readings: Isaiah 63:16-17; 64:1, 3-8. Lord, make us turn to you, let us see your face and we shall be saved—Ps 79(80):2-3, 15-16, 18-19. 1 Corinthians 1:3-9. Mark 13:33-37. [St Andrew].
Ilustration: Jacobus Vrel, Sleeping Woman (The Convalescent) 1654, Oil on panel (57 x 48 cm), Private collection.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris