Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino
First Sunday of Advent: Watch!
We begin Advent with the simple word: Watch. Next week we will be told: Stay Awake. The third week we have: Rejoice, and for the fourth week we have: Behold!
Watch! There are three ways that we need to watch. The first is to watch for those moments when the Lord is calling on us to reach out to others. St Teresa of Avila teaches us:
Christ has no body now on earth, but yours; no feet, but yours. It is your eyes through which Christ’s compassion looks out to the world; your feet with which he must walk about doing good; your hands with which he blesses humanity; your voice with which his forgiveness is spoken; your heart with which he now loves.
Jesus is calling upon us to bring his presence to others. Sometimes this might be obvious like a proclamation of our faith when we stand up for what is right regardless of what the crowd around us is saying or doing. Or we might defend the faith when someone comes out with anti-Catholic bigotry such as ”You Catholics don’t read the Bible” (we do), or ”You Catholics worship Mary” (we don’t; we honor her, we pray for her intercession for us with her Son, but we don’t worship her.) We have to watch for those times that the Lord calls on us to bring His Presence to others by going out of our way to be kind to them. Sometimes even a smile can pick up someone who is having a bad day. We need to watch for those times we can be Jesus’ hands and feet and voice. Of course, we cannot do that if we are so full of ourselves that we do not even notice the plight of others. If our basic outlook in life is ”It’s all about me,” then we are going to miss the times that it is all about Him. So you and I need to Watch
There is a second way that we need to watch. We need to watch for those seemingly minor changes or additions to our lives that might change the very direction of our lives. I know a young lady who had just finished college and needed to continue her education, but who also wanted to take a gap year in her education, just to get a break from school. She promised her parents that she would definitely be back in school in a year. Her parents agreed with her. She thought about getting a job for a year. Then, just on a quirk, she decided to check Google for what volunteer services were available. She was shocked at all the possibilities. She then started looking into them, with her mind set on doing something that was run by a Catholic organization. She found many possibilities. She settled on one where she would live with other people her age, pray together, and spend time caring for poor people in the big cities. She loved it and had a wonderful year She went to grad school with two great gifts: she was more determined than ever to be a Woman if of God, that and, well, during her gap year she met on the mission a young man with whom she could grow closer to God. Now he’s her husband, the father of her children, and the love of her life, at least this side of heaven. You see, she watched, saw what appeared to be a minor change in the direction of her life, a direction more towards God, and now her whole life took a wonderful turn for the better. If we watch, sometimes things that might seem to be a good idea, might be the Lord giving us a great idea.
The third way we need to watch might appear a bit scary, but it is realistic. The third way we need to watch is for the time that the Lord is calling us to leave this world and be fully united to Him. We always need to be ready to come before the Lord. Actually, we need to live as though every day might be both the best day and even the last day of our lives. This might seem to be a rather morbid thought, but, you know, it is not morbid. It’s realistic We all like to think that we are going to live to be a hundred, but what if we don’t live that long? Will we be ready for Him when we are 80? How about 50? How about 25? We always need to be ready for the Lord. No matter how old we are, our lives on earth will end much sooner than we expect. We always need to be ready to hear the Lord say, ”Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Father.”
Watch. Watch for the times to bring Jesus to others. Watch for the quiet call from the Lord to refine the direction of our lives more towards Him. And watch for the time when we are called to present our lives to our God. Watch! For the Lord has marvelous things in store for us all.