First Sunday of Advent 2019: “Stay Awake”

Version 2

“Stay Awake” Painting by Ronald Raab, CSC 2016

First Sunday of Advent

December 1, 2019

Dear Followers of the Messiah,

I recently ran across this quote from Emily Dickinson, “Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door.” This sentiment brings us into the meaning of Advent. We all wait for the dawn in the many ways. We face darkness such as illness, job loss, depression or when we anticipate our empty nest. Advent rouses courage within us to continue searching, to continue the ways in which we long for healing, relationship, and meaning within our lives and world. The dawn will come with hope and love.

I love Advent. This is my favorite season. However, Advent usually gets lost in busyness. We live in frantic times, struggling to make our way. We shop for items that will eventually sit in the back of a closet or get tossed by MLK day. We sit in front of computers becoming lonelier as the years go by. We hesitate to make our voices heard because we are not sure who will pay attention to them. We draw deeper and broader lines in the sand when it comes to how religion is performed or how politics is inserted in our daily lives. Advent usually gets relegated to four candles and some dry greens in a church sanctuary. We need desperately to open a new door to the season of Advent.

Advent is a season of vigilance. Within Advent, the entire Christian life is revealed if we have the courage to interpret the scriptures and the liturgies and face the Light. Christianity means something if we take time to work our way through our disappointments and disillusions. Potential is abundant if we are willing to take a journey into this profound four-week season before Christmas.

Advent is a season of paradox. At first glance, we may think it is a time to prepare only for Christmas. However, the Church does not wait for a baby, since the birth of Christ took place centuries ago. The real message of Christmas is that we wait for the Second Coming of Christ Jesus. We also wait to recognize Christ Jesus within our own hearts and lives today. Today’s gospel, Matthew 24: 37-44 offers such an instruction. “Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” Let us seize the prophets in Advent and wake up to grace, love and peace for our world.

Advent is a season of genuine hope. We stay awake to recognize Christ’s presence among us. Unraveling our doubt, sinfulness, insecurities, ill health and cynicism are places in which we can discover the beauty and real presence of Jesus. It takes a lifetime for such prayer and awareness. We need God in so many ways. Advent is the place where new doors can open and a new vision of faith can be lived.

Advent is a season of heartfelt growth. As we wait for the Messiah within our lives, we also may discover Christ’s real love for people in our world. If we take Advent in our hearts, then barriers and obstacles may be removed toward how we view one another. We may see as Jesus sees. We may broaden our views of immigrants, of our enemies, of our family differences, and even how we view people who do not fit in our plans or vision. In Advent we take the Incarnation seriously. Jesus was born in our human condition and in him all people are loved and cherished.

I hope you will join us for Advent Vespers at 5:00pm at Sacred Heart on the four Sundays of Advent, December 1, 8, 15, and 22. Our title is, “Advent Motherhood and Other Miracles.”

Also, next Sunday December 8 is usually the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, a Holy Day. Since it falls on Sunday, the Church celebrates it on Monday December 9. It is not a holy day of obligation. Mass is at 8:00am.

Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door.” Peace in these Advent days of waiting and longing,

Fr. Ron



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