Sunday, December 3, 2017

Be Watchful!: The First Sunday of Advent

Be watchful!  Be alert!

We hear this admonition four times from Jesus in the Gospel (Mk 13:33-37) as we begin the Season of Advent this year.  We know that Advent is a time of preparation  A time to prepare our hearts to celebrate the coming of Christ at Christmas.  And also a time to prepare our hearts to celebrate the coming of Christ when he returns in glory in his Second Coming.

So when Jesus tells us to be watchful, does he mean that we should watch the calendar so as to count down the days until Christmas?  Does he mean that we should watch the skies for his coming again so that we are not caught off guard?

I think the answer to both of these is Yes.  But I also think there is something more.

Advent invites us to not only look to the past or towards the future, but Advent also invites us to look at the present moment.  To be watchful and to be alert for how Jesus comes to us right now.  To be watchful and to be alert to the presence of Jesus in our midst in every moment of our lives.  When we open our hearts to Jesus in prayer.  When we try to listen to God's voice in our hearts or God's voice in Scripture.  When we forgive someone who has hurt us or when we seek forgiveness for a wrong we have done.  When we receive an unexpected phone call from a friend or a smile of a loved one or a random conversation with a stranger as we wait in line.  When we receive the grace of patience or courage or perseverance or understanding or whatever we need in the moment.  When we find a moment of silence in the middle of a rushed holiday season.  Even when we struggle with a difficulty or have a bad day.  When...  When... When... Just look around, be watchful, because Jesus comes to us in many different ways every day.  But we need to be watching for it so that we realize it!

The Season of Advent offers us a school of watchfulness, a sacred time when we can stop and learn how to watch so that we can see how Jesus comes to us each and every day of our lives.  To cultivate this attitude of watchfulness, I offer three simple suggestions

1) Spend a few moments of Quiet each day to be aware of and to reflect on how Christ has visited you during the day
2) Encounter the mercy of God through Reconciliation in which Jesus comes and says "You are forgiven"
3) DO something that helps others see Jesus come to them (such as contributing to a charitable cause or standing up for others' rights or just smiling at your coworkers or any of the Works of Mercy.)

As we enter into the Season of Advent, let us be watchful and alert...for the child born in the stable at Bethlehem...for the coming of Christ in glory...for Jesus as he comes to us right now, in our daily living.

Be watchful!  Be alert!

Blessings on your Advent!

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