First Sunday of Advent – Year A

Today’s liturgy addresses a wake-up call to us:  “The time has come, you must wake up now”. St Paul tells us that we must wake up now. But there is more at stake than just being awake. We could be awake and yet be only half alive, because we have no awareness, no understanding, no vision.

            Each day summons us to awake from sleep. Sometimes we can’t wait for the morning to come. We wake up in joyful anticipation. We feel good to be alive. We are thankful to God for the gift of a new day. It is a chance to carry on some task we have started, or to begin something we have been postponing, or to repair some damage or neglect in our lives.

Other times we are apathetic about waking up. We greet the new day without enthusiasm. Life may be monotonous or empty for us. Perhaps we are unemployed or retired, perhaps we lost a loved one and there is nothing to look forward to.

And most of us know or have known days, hopefully not too many, when we dread the approach of morning. We wake up fearfully, and get up reluctantly. Life is dark and burdensome for us. Perhaps we are older or sickly or alone.

How we greet each morning is very important. If we greet the day with joy and thankfulness, we will bring energy and enthusiasm to its tasks. But if we greet it with apathy or dread, we will face its tasks in a half-hearted manner. No one has a perfect life. All of us have to face difficulties. It is what we make of these difficulties that matters. Difficulties can be challenges. If we don’t like something we should try to change it. If we can’t change it, then we should try to change the way we think about it. Complaining won’t do us any good. Circumstances are beyond our control but our conduct is in our own power. What makes the difference is how we respond to our particular situation.

            Advent issues a spiritual wake-up call to us, and has an awakening power. Unless we are spiritually awake we are only half living. In this respect some people are little better than sleepwalkers. They have eyes but do not see, and ears but do not hear. Their minds are narrow and closed. Their hearts have become hardened. To be awake spiritually means to be open and receptive, vigilant and active.

Spirituality is about waking up. It is about understanding things, seeing things, hearing things. It is necessary to reflect, to have the will, and to be wide awake. To be spiritually awake means to be attentive to God and to others. It means to be living in love.

We have two options: we can be a watcher or a sleeper. It is easy to be a sleeper. But sleepers waste their lives. It’s harder but very much more rewarding to be a watcher. To watch means to be awake, to be alert, to be concerned, to be active, to be interested, to care. In a word, to be a watcher is to be responsible.

Jesus urges us to stay awake, to be on our guard, to be on the watch.

We have nothing to fear and everything to gain from answering Advent’s wake-up call.

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