On the Gospel of Mark 13:33-37
First Sunday of Advent
At crucial moments in our Lord’s life we incredibly catch a glimpse of his closest apostles falling asleep. Upon the mountainside of his Transfiguration, that great manifestation of his heavenly glory and intimacy with God the Father, we see Peter, James and John (Luke 9:32) heavy with sleep. Again, this time in the valley of his agony at Gethsemane, it is closest disciples who fail to stay awake during his darkest moments. Those momentous moments that would begin His redeeming Passion which opened the doors to our salvation.
This Sunday it is each of us he is calling, urging us to “Be on your guard!” to “Stay Awake!” Just as on those occasions with his closest apostles, this moment marks the beginning of a very special time in our lives as followers of Christ. For Advent is a time of coming and expectation, a time of preparation, as we look towards the celebration of the arrival of a new era, in the birth of Christ.
Today’s call is an urgent call, for each of us to awake from that sleepiness and forgetfulness that the busy world so easily lulls us into. We are being called to remember that which is most crucial to our very existence and eternal happiness- what our life here on earth is really about!
The ancient Hebrew peoples and prophets had eagerly awaited the coming of the infant Christ, as Saviour and bringer of hope and eternal salvation. But when he came, “unto his own, his own received him not.” This Advent, it is us as Christians who must not be blind to what is most essential in our lives. Let us use these four weeks set aside by Christ’s Church to “make his paths straight,” that we may receive Him into our hearts anew this Christmas. This is how we make it truly a time of true celebration and peace. Practically, as Christians, staying awake means keeping close to Christ: keeping faithful and attentive to our daily personal prayer where we grow in familiarity and alertness to his consoling presence, offering up all those daily challenges that this busy time of year can bring and especially, by opening our eyes and cleansing our hearts in that great sacrament of compassion, Confession. There is no surer way of ensuring we will be ready to receive the Child Jesus worthily this Christmas!
So, let us not allow those glistening lights and festive streets to lull us into sleepiness at this momentous time- Stay awake! He who is our one true hope and love is coming anew to us this Christmas!