1st Sunday of Advent ( B ) 2020
“Stay awake!” In the gospels it has an exclamation mark after it; to suggest it is an order. That order reverberates down through the centuries; we can hear it today, loud and clear: “stay awake.” You might think it is an odd thing to say when it’s perfectly clear you are awake; you wouldn’t be able to hear this if you were asleep. Yes, you are not asleep but are you really awake; at least in the sense that Christ’s means.
What Christ means is: do you hear him? Do you really hear him? Or do his words go in one ear and out the other. Christ is asking us to stay awake, in other words, to keep focussed on what he says in the gospel. When some one is self-absorbed that they don’t really notice what Christ is saying to them; nor do they don’t notice other people; not even family. They are too self-centered, too self-absorbed to notice anyone’s concerns but their own. And sometimes these people are going to church, they pray, say the rosary, even go to confession. They are not concentrating on what Christ says to them week in and week out at mass; they are day dreaming.
By really listening to the Word of God we are being formed, shaped into something very special. God is like that potter mentioned in the first reading; the prophet Isaiah says, “Lord, you are our Father; we the clay, you the potter, we are all the work of your hand.“ What a lovely expression: ‘the work of God’s hand.’ God is moulding us, forming us, as a potter moulds a vase or a bowl. It takes time. Sometimes there are mistakes and the potter has to start again. But the good potter doesn’t give up until the vase takes shape and is beautiful.
In an analogous way God moulds us throughout our lives. It’s a slow process and we make mistakes, lots of them, but God doesn’t give up. He wants to create something beautiful. To do this He uses other people to inspire us. We have all been helped through life by the good example of others; our parents, grandparents, a teacher, friend, a priest or a nun. Sometimes we follow their good example sometimes we don’t. But God allows us to mess up; to collapse like the clay. But if we don’t learn from our mistakes, if all we think about is ourselves, our own cares and concerns it’s the equivalent of sleep-walking through life.
God is calling us this Advent to stay awake. To listen to Him. To let ourselves be formed as a potter forms a vase. Listen to people around you, especially those in need; beginning with your own families. Stay awake by praying and asking God to help you to become the person He intends you to be. Not a beautiful vase, but something far more precious; a person whose heart is filled with love for God and for others.