Peace and grace to you!
In the first reading we are given an encouragement to be watchful or vigilant because God is soon going to fulfill a promise. In the Gospel, Jesus says that there will be changes in weather and signs in the heavens and events that seem like the end of the world which include the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. To many, these events will be terrifying and overwhelming. But to those who are disciples, Jesus says stand erect and raise your heads! Then he warns us to beware not to become drowsy in our faith or grow slack in discipline or let things overwhelm us to the point that we forget or miss what is truly important.
As you know, Advent is a special time of waiting and expectation for the coming of Christ into the world and into our lives in a new personal way. We know that God always comes through when he makes promises but we are not always sure how they will be fulfilled! That’s why we’re not supposed to get drowsy or distracted, we are supposed to watch with eyes of faith!
Consider what you find encouraging and exciting in these three weeks before Christmas. Is it bringing out the old, beautiful Christmas decorations for your house? Is it the memories that they bring with them as you set them up and place them in just the right spot? Is it the fresh scent of the Christmas tree? It could be children or grand children thinking about Santa or re-telling stories of Christmas in the past. Getting together with friends and family always brings a certain excitement and energy with it. There are also the cards and letters that bring us close to those who are far away reminding us that the love of the Heart of Jesus encompasses all people everywhere. There are movies, music and special dishes that are part of the season that coincide with expectation, anticipation and surprise.
We know instinctively that this is indeed a very special time of year and it comes with a sense of hope in God’s goodness and we know that he is a promise keeper. We also know that we can get lost and distracted with busyness and pressures. The light of generosity and goodness can momentarily be extinguished by the impatience we feel with crowds and pushy people we encounter while we are negotiating parking lots or waiting in line at stores. There are also the relationships that can feel draining or acute sadness from separation or loss of loved ones. Sometimes we have to struggle for equilibrium and inner peace so that we can encounter goodness and peace in the people around us.
It would be good to make the effort to pray more and try to focus on watching for God’s presence. God loves and cares for each and every one of us, personally. Lift up the eye of your mind and open the arms of your heart to embrace God! Receive the promised gift and surprise that he has for you in Jesus! Advent Blessings to you! +++ Fr. Peter