Here is a quiz for you. You are sleeping. You are dreaming. A big lion is chasing you. You try to run away and you see a tiger coming in front of you. You turn sideways, but on every side, you turn to, you find a ferocious animal coming after you. How can you escape? The answer is: Wake up. Advent is a wake-up call.
We are in the advent season, starts the new liturgical year, year B. Pope Benedict XVI once wrote: "The purpose of the Church's year is continually to rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heart's memory so that it can discern the star of hope. It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us, memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope."
On the First Sunday of Advent reading tells us “watch.” The Romans divided the night into watches of three hours each, and there were four watches to the night. Jesus says in the Gospel, “Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning.” Just in a general sense, it is hard to watch and wait during the night time. The gatekeeper needs to be vigilant and awake when the master is coming. We see this message all the Gospels. Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew, “Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come” Matthew 24:42.
In the First reading prophet Isaiah speaks for his people. They were in Babylonian exile and just coming back to Promised Land. We can see all kinds of emotional feelings in this reading. On one side we see hope, at the same time we can see guilt, outrage, and asking for help. Isaiah agrees that people were not faithful. Isaiah was pleading that God will remain with them and his presence will change the people. In the second reading, St. Paul gives thanks to the Christian community in Corinth. He recognizes their faith and living out the spiritual gift. They were in watch for their faith and entering into the fellowship with Jesus.
What should we need to watch in this Advent? The first is the immediate watch and wait for the celebration of Christmas. The second is the watch and wait for the second coming of Christ. The first half of the advent readings will help us to reflect on the second coming of Christ and the second half of the advent reading will invite us to reflect on the birth of Child Jesus.
How we want to watch and wait during this time? The first watch - find time for the Lord. During the pandemic it may be hard, still can find ways to celebrate our faith. Read scripture, find time to pray every day, or attend Mass in person or virtually, and so on.
The second watch – reach out to others. St Teresa of Avila tells us, “Christ has no body now on earth, but yours; no feet, but yours. It is your eyes through which Christ’s compassion looks out to the world; your feet with which he must walk about doing good; your hands with which he blesses humanity; your voice with which his forgiveness is spoken; your heart with which he now loves.” Jesus invites us to be near and dear to others for him.
Let us be with Mary who spent time in prayer and being present to Elizabeth who was in need of help. Happy Advent!