Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Messiah,
Why does Advent begin with such a challenging call from Mark’s gospel, “Be watchful! Be Alert!” We begin with a call to cultivate a deep desire for God. This desire today will help us celebrate Christmas, the Incarnation of God. This desire for God is richly traditional and ever new.
Take a look around our world today. We face so many issues that divide us, both within the Church and in the world around us. We discover our call and challenge to watch and wake up from the very issues that need our attention. God calls us into union and communion. This means that nothing within our lives is separate from God. God wants us to raise a fuss about how we live with disunity and hardness of heart.
We take seriously the value of all human life because God surrendered to us. Jesus was born in humbleness and insecurity. Image that. The All-Knowing, All-Powerful God, the God of All the Universe, broke open the heavens to manifest love upon the earth, being born along the margins of his culture. It is our challenge then to make sure we support the dignity of all human beings no matter their culture, where they have immigrated from or what language their children speak. We support with the basics of life, food, shelter, love and mercy, because those are the very things that Jesus did not have when he came among us!
In the sacred liturgy, we start the story of Jesus all over again. This means we start with the longing of the people of Israel for the Messiah. We start with the longing of our own hearts. Let me say that there are three aspects of this longing. We place ourselves in the PAST because of the history of salvation, being united with the longing of our ancestors. We also long for the FUTURE because we await the final return of Jesus Christ in the end of time. We also long for the PRESENT moment in which God changes our hearts and the hearts of the people of the world. This last longing or waiting for God is the most difficult. It is not easy for us to take a step back from our prejudice, our political views and our obsessive nature about always being correct, and confront the reality of our humble nature and to place our lives in God alone. This is the role of our individual prayer and our communal prayer. Our lives are waiting and longing for the Mystery of God manifest in our decisions, choices and family lives.
We need to be a watchful people. That means we need to have one eye on the world’s poverty, injustice and dissatisfaction, turmoil and hopelessness and one eye open waiting for God to come to us and change our hearts and satisfy our needs. Advent begins the deep longing within our hearts for the conversion of our lives and of the Church. Advent does not begin with just sentiment and nostalgia, but a new awareness of our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Blessings in these Advent days,