Mark’s gospel (13:33-37) begins our Advent journey with Jesus’ words to stay vigilant and awake. We are to quicken our heart’s response to Jesus’ presence in the here and now and learn to rely once again on the power of God for our future in heaven. Advent is meant to cultivate our desire for God. We are to rise from our sleepy ways, realize our dependence on God and rouse our heart’s desire for God alone. Nothing on earth is to claim our heart with such passion and intention.
There are many circumstances in life that render us drowsy and alone. We often think we can save ourselves from our circumstances in life, from our infidelity in marriage or from wanting to control our children’s lives. We judge our colleagues, get revenge in our career, cheat in our classrooms, use people for our own needs and betray our true gifts. God shakes us from our slumber, our apathy and mistrust in these days that prepare us for Christmas.
Advent claims our hearts again to love God and to serve others. Advent shows us a straight path in our crooked and unfortunate ways. This painting is a reflection of John the Baptist, the one who calls us out of slumber and obstinate ways. We will hear from John in the next two Sundays of Advent. The eyes of this man are tired and stressed from wanting to lay his eyes on the beauty of the Lord’s coming, the real presence of God’s love. May our eyes not rest until they rest on the face of Jesus.