From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
November 27 – First Sunday of Advent
We think of Advent as a time when we prepare for the coming of God, but we are also to train our attention on our journey to God. Paul tells us in our second reading to “awake from our sleep…to throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” We are challenged in Advent to see the vision of our lives as Christians; and to look at the possibilities of life which Jesus calls us to. This is a season of preparation, a season of hope, and a season of anticipation. It is about the coming – the coming of God in the Word made flesh as Jesus comes to share in our humanness; the coming of Jesus into each of our lives on a daily basis and through the sacraments. It is about Christ being born not only into human flesh, but also into the very fabric of each of our lives, if we will only open up and offer him the hospitality of our discipleship. And it is about the Final Coming, when the teaching will be done – and judgment will be made. It is the hope and the promise of this final coming of Jesus, when the fulfillment will be complete, that we anticipate during Advent; but for which we are called to spend our lifetimes preparing for.
“Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” Every year we hear words similar to these. We are warned to be ready – but are we? Advent provides us the time to begin anew in our efforts to be transformed. This clarion call in the gospels to ‘stay awake’ is our reminder to bring a sense of urgency to who we are and what we do. And while we look with great anticipation to the hope of the future, we are called to invest our energies in the present. When Jesus came to be among us, we were provided with the hope of the future, not only because of his promise to return in glory, but because of the depth of God’s love shown to us in the very act of his first coming – he loved us so much that he took on human form and walked with us even to the valley of death. He gave us the gift of his teachings, the gift of his Spirit to be our constant companion, and the gift of himself in the Eucharist to feed us on a constant basis. The question is, what do we do with that gift of the Eucharist? We are called to be Eucharist to others! We are called to do it now! Do it with a sense of urgency! Do it with a passion for the Lord! For tomorrow may be too late – today is the day for us to awake from our sleep!
During Advent, we have an opportunity to reflect upon and renew our relationship with God. To ask ourselves, what is it that we truly love and have a passion for? Are we willing to bring the same passion and dedication and sense of urgency to our love of God, our love of family, and our love of others, as we do to our secular desires? In Advent, we are reminded again of all that God has given us, how deeply he loves us, and the promise and hope of the future. If we embrace what he has offered us in his first coming with zeal and passion, the hope of tomorrow becomes a vision of joy. We should live as though Jesus died yesterday, rose this morning, and is coming back at any moment!
As Vincentians, we are confronted with the neighbors who struggle to succeed. Some we see with frequency and we wonder if they are really trying. In Advent, we are reminded of the importance of mercy and continually offering our help and support to those in need. We are called to provide them with the support and guidance to prepare for their future and to make their future a future of hope. As God extends mercy and renewal to us, so too should we. How do I help others to move beyond their past to new beginnings? How do I embrace in humility, the opportunities God gives to me to be merciful to others?
Lord Jesus, thank you for the grace of new opportunities. ‘Remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Shower your mercy upon me that I might grow in humility, recognizing your presence in every person you bring before me. Give me strength to extend forgiveness, mercy and love to others. Allow me the grace to extend to others love and mercy in the fashion you shower it upon me. We pray all of this in your name. Amen