First Sunday of Advent Reflection
November 29, 2010
Increase our longing for
Christ our Savior and give us the strength to grow in love, that
the dawn of his coming may find us rejoicing in his presence and
welcoming the light of his truth.
the first Sunday of Advent a new Church year begins.
The year just passed, as all years, has been a year of
joy and suffering, peace and struggle, love and conflict.
It has been a time of growth and new beginnings and of
diminishment and death.
It has brought many blessings, but it has also taken its
toll. For most of
us our day to day lives of work, habit and routine have, to
varying degrees, worn us down and tired us out.
On this day, the words of St. Paul to the Romans call us
to remember the transcendent Reality underneath our daily
somnolence. “It is
the hour now for you to awake from sleep” (Romans 13:11)
As Advent of 2010
begins, the words of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew (24:37-9)
seem to have a striking relevance:
As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be
at the coming of the Son of Man.
In those days before the Flood, they were eating and
drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that
Noah entered the ark.
They did not know until the flood came and carried them
During the recently concluded mid-term
elections in the United States, a time for a societal
conversation on its priorities, values, and shared response to
them, there was a remarkable silence regarding our
responsibility as a people to the planet and its future from
politicians, religious leaders and the population at large.
There remains little doubt in all reasonable circles that
our carbon emissions have polluted the air we breathe and
dramatically altered the earth’s climate to a degree that is
already threatening the lives of millions, especially those
whose lives are already most difficult.
There was much talk of how angry and frustrated the
American people were, but little or no discussion of our
responsibility for the earth and to each other.
Month by month
the evidence grows that the changes to the Earth’s climate are
becoming, if they have not already become, inevitable.
How do we carry on obsessed with concerns about our own
satisfaction in the face of such a responsibility?
We do it as human beings always have, by falling asleep.
From the time of Noah, through the Disciples in the
Garden of Gethsemane on the night before Jesus’ death, to the
perilous state of our planetary home, in the face of what is too
much for us we go to sleep.
Peter, James, and John did it literally, while we, most
often, do it in the same way as those who lived in Noah’s time.
We get caught up in all the concerns of our daily lives,
repressing our deeper longings, aspirations, and fears, to such
a degree that we forsake our deepest calling and
Opening Prayer for this First Sunday of Advent prays that the
advent of the Lord “may find us rejoicing in his presence and
welcoming the light of his truth.”
It does not say that we are to rejoice in his presence
and welcome the light of his truth after he comes, but rather
prays that when he comes he will find us rejoicing and welcoming
truth. How is it
possible to rejoice in the presence and know the truth of One
not yet arrived?
The beginning of the prayer offers an answer.
It is the nature of the human heart and soul to live in
longing, to desire and to search.
Thus, the prayer asks God to “increase our longing.”
We fall asleep because it is difficult to live the
passion: to live in desire, longing, and searching.
Yet, it is precisely in longing and desire that we know
the presence and the truth of the Lord.
unconsciously is to create a life of habit and reaction that
serves the lie that we are unable to bear our own deepest
desires and longings of heart and our potential for passion and
compassion for God’s world.
Far too often all of our rage and anger at a world that
doesn’t satisfy us and fulfill our sense of entitlement is but
an evasion of our own deeper life, our own capacity for presence
to the truth and communion with the Lord.
This Advent we are once again invited to wake up by
detaching ourselves in one or two small ways from all of our
strategies for somnolence and evasion.
Perhaps we can start by finding time each day to “sit