Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wait. Watch. Advent.

First Sunday of Advent
November 27, 2011

Gospel, Mark 13:33-37

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.
It is like a man traveling abroad.
He leaves home and places his servants in charge,
each with his own work,
and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.
Watch, therefore;
you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,
whether in the evening, or at midnight,
or at cockcrow, or in the morning.
May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.
What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'"

Carols and cookies, gifts and garland, stockings and Santa--Christmas may be starting earlier and earlier, but today, the new year gets its due. No need for ball drops, countdowns, or champagne, though.  The new liturgical year comes only with a wreath, four candles, and the invitation to keep watch.

The liturgical year is a beautiful thing.  The cyclical movements of preparation, incarnation, repentance, death, and resurrection mark our collective life in God, and their celebration shapes our minds and hearts to see the divine presence in the most ordinary of times.   It is a gift to journey through these seasons time and time again, continually reflecting on the life of Christ and the summons of the Gospel.  Advent in particular walks us through hope, peace, joy and love as we look forward to the incarnation of God-with-us.

As we begin a new year in the life of the Church today, Jesus urges us, his disciples, to be watchful and alert.  But for what?  Where?  If we are to keep our eyes peeled for the Lord, we ought to have some sense of what we are looking and waiting for.

Perhaps today as we begin this holy season we can ask ourselves, Where do we expect to find Christ in the course of our days?  How can we become more attentive to God’s ever-presence in our world?  And this week especially, where do we catch radiant glimpses of the hope made manifest in the Incarnation?


Written for Fairfield University's 2011 Advent Reflection Series