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First Sunday of Advent (Year A)
Isa 2.1-5;
Rom 13.11-14;  
Mt 24.37-44
We welcome ourselves into a new season; the season of advent. Advent is here once again and we start out on the yearly cycle with the history of our salvation. Each season of the Church’s year has its own theme. The theme of the first part of Advent is undoubtedly “arise”, “wake up’, and stay awake”.

Today’s readings warn us to stop hiding our heads in the sand and to take stock of what is happening; to wake up, and face facts.   Our Lord’s words in the gospel stir us from our dreams, and that tendency which can so easily slow down and even stifle our spiritual life: the tendency to bury our heads in the sand. We can all be a prey to the ostrich mentality. In other words, Advent is the time for climbing out of our mental beds and looking out at the wider picture.
What is the wider picture?  It’s so easy for us to keep narrowly focussed only on the day-to-day, the trivial round. We can be completely caught up with the many things which claim our attention – our families, our jobs, our health, our problems, our plans.  Important though these things undoubtedly are, they are not the only things that matter.

There is always the danger of immersing ourselves so exclusively in the tiny details of the small scheme of things that we risk losing sight of the grand design.  We can be so preoccupied with the business of living that we forget the wider and ultimate questions of why we are here, what the purpose of life is, and where we are heading. Advent is a time for pausing; for making time to reflect on these important questions. Advent invites us to stop looking at the trees and to try instead to grasp the beauty of the entire wood.
How do we do this?  In today’s first reading the prophet Isaiah speaks of going up to the holy mountain:  let us go up…to the Temple of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths.  We need to make space for God, to enter into that inner temple, that interior sanctuary within our hearts, in order to listen to the voice of the Lord. We need to withdraw to that private place where we can be alone with Him, to renew our own personal covenant with Him, to rededicate ourselves.
More so, the prophet announced the turning of things around; of turning implements of war into tools of peace. Advent is a time for preparing to meet God by turning away from the disputes and setbacks that so easily engulf us. A time to discipline the tongue, to cultivate in our hearts the harvest which God wants: peace, reconciliation, justice.

In today’s second reading, St. Paul tells us that the time to do this is now:  the night is almost over, it will be daylight soon – let us give up all the things we prefer to do under the cover of the dark. It is time to put on our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we were clothed at our baptism. It is time to turn away from the things we are ashamed of, to turn back and walk again as children of the light.

The day Noah entered the ark… At that point, everything changed. the coming of the Son of Man will be a repeat of the great flood and the people will be caught unaware. We truly ourselves do not know the day or the hour of Christ’s coming, but we have this amazing opportunity to live our lives as Christ would have us. We should take this time to be compassionate to one another; loving everyone, whether they need love or not; accepting everyone with no judgment of politics or religion or preference. Christ is a lover of all, and he wants us to follow in his footsteps – to be a disciple for him! 

Perhaps, most of all, we need to live in a state of expectation, as Our Lord describes it in the gospel. Instead of imagining we will live forever, instead of thinking that the Lord will never return, we need to live as if we really expect Him to return at any moment. By living in that state of alertness we shall be better prepared for the moment when He does actually come to claim us, either at the end of the world, or at the end of our own little world, the end of our life on earth.
Living in a state of expectation  does not of course mean cringing in fear, nor does it mean ignoring all our duties and responsibilities. It means trying to see our existence in its proper context.  That proper context is called God; salvation; eternal life.  We have to let the awareness of our final destiny impinge on our daily living. It means reminding ourselves of why we are here, what our lives are for, and what our destiny should be. It means remembering that we will one day have to stand before the Son of God, and hand in our stewardship. We shall be required to give an account of how we spent our life below.  

After all our cosy and soporific dreams in this world, the inescapable and razor-sharp realities of the next world will come crashing in and wake us up for ever, either to eternal happiness, or if we have wasted our time here below, perhaps to the other alternative.
 Advent reminds us to start preparing now.  While you have time, says the Advent cry, wake up, take your head out of the sand, and stay awake, because you know neither the day nor the hour when the Master will come. The thought of His coming  should fill us with joy. If it doesn’t, well, perhaps our preparation is still somewhat lacking. Perhaps we are, after all, still half asleep.  We have this season to put that right.  Unless, of course, He comes before then.

Stay Awake and Be ready!

Fr Joseph Osho

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“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

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