Every Advent season – especially an Advent during a pandemic – is a special time to pay attention to how God is working in our life and world. As the Gospel (Mk 13:33-37) tells us, we need to “Be watchful! Be alert!”. God is trying to teach us something. Let us pay attention.
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The 19th century Jesuit poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, has a line in Hurrahing in Harvest that resonates with me as we come to the beginning of Advent. Hopkins says: These things, these things were here and but the beholder wanting.
Although it’s an autumn poem, that sense of beholding is a good grace for us to pray for in these opening days of Advent. The Gospel for the First Sunday of Advent has Jesus remind us to stay awake and alert, to be attentive to the ways in which God can be discovered. He says,
For you do not know when the time will come. We can be surprised by God’s gifts at any time. That requires that we be vigilant, attentive and alert. Hopkins is reminding us that the possibilities of God’s graces are there. We just need to behold them or be attentive to our experiences so that we don’t miss the meaning in them.
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Homily Keep awake, keep alert is not the same as look busy, or being busy.
In fact, one can be very busy but very much asleep. To Keep awake, to keep alert is to be alive in faith, attentive daily to our relationship with Jesus, attending daily to our prayer and participating in the sacraments. Being alert is to be attentive to the presence of the Lord and the things of the kingdom of God and trusting in Jesus amidst the trials and sufferings of life.
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