1st Sunday of Advent, Year B -2017 Isa 63:16-17, 64:1, 3-8/ 1 Cor 1:3-9/ Mk 13:33-37
A group of young people went to visit a famous Master (of Life) well known for his wisdom. To test his wisdom a young man asked the Master, “Master I want to be in heaven after my death. So how many days before my death should I prepare for that?
Immediately the Master replied, “One day before your death.” This was an unexpected answer for the young man. Still he braved to ask, “But, how do I know when I am going to die?
In a calm voice the master replied, “Since we do not know the time, start preparing now. The time is now to organize our lives with right priorities.
There are many ways to know how healthy we are or how our body is feeling. We can go for a medical check-up, or take advantage of those free consultations to see how well we are. But one of the best ways to know how healthy we are and the physical state of our body is to see who we feel when we wake up.
If at the point of waking up, we feel fresh and rejuvenated then we can be sure that we will go through the day energetically, and we will even go be in a good mood throughout the day.
We may not even need that cup of coffee to get us started and we may even be waking up before the alarm goes off. But this is often not the case.
Very often, the alarm wakes us up and at times we can even not hear the alarm! Oh yes, we can oversleep and we jump-start the day and get into that morning rush as we try not to be late for work or for school or for whatever.
If we can oversleep and the alarm can’t even wake us up, then we must be very tired and not in good shape. And even if we can wake up and drag ourselves out of bed and when we look at ourselves in the mirror, then we can really see how we feel.
Very often, we look sleepy, with eyes only half-opened. Our face looks tired and feels tired. It looks like as if we had been working all night instead of sleeping. It is strange to look tired when we wake up.
Even a cup of coffee may not get us started. May be a few cups are needed. And if we wake up feeling tired, then most likely we will feel tired throughout the day, tired and maybe moody.
So, how we feel when we wake up in the morning will certainly have a bearing on the rest of the day. Today, we begin a new liturgical year, a new Church year, with the 1st Sunday of Advent.
We can say that today we wake up to a new Church year. The season of Advent prepares us for Christmas. So the 1st Sunday of Advent is like the alarm clock ringing. The 4 weeks of Advent to slowly wake us up to Christmas. But are we hearing the alarm and slowly waking up?
Or do we just wake up for a while and then back to sleep and end up oversleeping? If after sleeping one whole night and we still can’t quite wake up or feel tired upon waking up, then something must be wrong.
Well, we can ignore the signs and continue to sleep and end up oversleeping and then jump-start and rush through Advent and through Christmas and rush through life, and end up getting more and more tired about life.
In today’s gospel, Jesus kept repeating this phrase – stay awake! Jesus wants us to look at the areas of our lives that tire us out physically and spiritually.
Advent is a time to see the world for what it is, to acknowledge the mess things are in, to recognize our own failings, failings caused by our own indifference and apathy. We’re too distracted, lost in iPhone chatter, twittering and tweeting away¸ awash in e-mails.
Advent can be a gift that allows to take time out to clearly see that we need a savior and in our hearts to listen to His voice within us. We need God to come among us and set us back on the right path for living on this planet among each other, as He intended we should.
And, of course, Christmas is the celebration of the fact that God has done just that. In Christmas, He has given us His presence, His power, and His love.
We have so many questions we put to God. We have all of these lamentations and cries for Him to act. But did you notice that Jesus has a question for us? He has an expectation of us.
He asks: Where is your faith? Do you in fact have any faith? And, He asked, when He comes again in glory on the Last Day, will He find any faith on earth?
Again, and again we hear about all we must do for the poor, the oppressed and those less fortunate than we are.
But what about the one duty upon which all of our social services are based, namely our duty to honor God, to believe in His love, and to live in faith, to pray and give Him worship?
Faith gives us the power of hope. If we see hopelessness we see faithlessness. Faith empowers us to act – to engage our surrounding world because we hope for better things.
So, God wants us to look at our spiritual life and stay awake and keep looking at it instead of closing our eyes and sleeping through it and think that they will go away somehow.
Yes, we open our eyes and look at our lifestyles and our eating habits, especially those that are unhealthy and doing damage to our health. We open our eyes and look at our spiritual life, e.g., our prayer life and our awareness of the presence of God in our lives.
We also look at what is bothering us – our frustrations, worries and anxieties, our disappointments, resentment and anger. All these trouble our hearts and burden our minds so much so that as we are sleeping, our minds and hearts are not resting.
Hence, when the alarm wakes us up, or when we try to wake up, we feel too tired and we just want to continue sleeping. But to continue to sleep and then end up oversleeping will not solve any problems – in fact, the problem will only keep increasing.
And that’s why Jesus tells us to stay awake and to open our eyes to look at our problems. It is only when we keep looking at the problem, then we will slowly see the solution.
Be Blesses and Be a Blessing. Amen.