First Sunday of Advent Reflection: Wake Up and Remember
Franciscan Reflections From The Hermitage – First Sunday of Advent – Year B – Wake Up and Remember
To live without hope is to cease to live. Hell is hopelessness. It is no accident that above the entrance to Dante’s hell is the inscription: “Leave behind all hope, you who enter here. Jürgen Moltmann
Advent is concerned with that very connection between memory and hope which is so necessary to survive.
Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child. This is a healing memory; it brings hope.
The purpose of the Church’s year is continually to rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heart’s memory so that it can discern the star of hope.…
It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope.
But what are the practical implications for us in this present Advent season? For some of us here today, this period of waiting and preparation might well be the last we will make in this Church… for some of us, it may well be the last preparation we will ever make.
The word of God which will accompany us for the coming Sundays tells us that Jesus has not come just once. He has come and keeps coming… But do we recognize him? Can we see his presence in our life?
Are we afraid that he will ask of us things we are not willing to give?
Do we prefer to keep our eyes and ears closed?
There is a great need for the coming of Jesus! Has he truly come?
In a nation where citizens kill each other, where there is war, violence, injustice, hate, grudges, feuds … has Jesus come?
These horrors that we see are but the outer manifestations of our inner lives. What we see portrayed on the screens reflects the reality of our decisions.
Jesus has not come because he cannot come. The obstacles preventing his coming must first be removed. The readings of Advent invite us to be vigilant, to keep our eyes open so that we may discover how Jesus has chosen to come to free us from darkness.
Through the coming of this baby, Jesus, God has offered us union with God’s self. A union by which we, as in a marriage, share in the life of the other; a life which is divine and eternal.
And what do we bring to this marriage union?….we bring our debts… debts that God settles on our behalf. But we do have our part to play…Forgive us our debts as we forgive our own debtors!!
In Aramaic, we pray that God: Untie the tangled threads of destiny that bind us, as we release others from the entanglement of past mistakes. Let us therefore commit ourselves daily to an Advent examination.
-Are there any feelings of discrimination toward race, sex, or religion?
-Is there a lingering resentment, an un-forgiven injury living in our hearts?
-Have I become cold or judgemental, critical or even domineering towards my spouse or those I have been called to serve?
-Is there a son-in-law or a daughter-in-law who feels rejected, and ostracised because of my actions?
-Do we look down upon others of lesser social standing or educational achievement?
-Are we generous with the gifts that have been given to us, seeing ourselves as their stewards and not their owners?
-Are we reverent of others, their ideas and needs, and of creation?
These and other questions become Advent lights by which we may search the deep, dark corners of our hearts.
Each year, God asks us to shed one more coat of unawareness, one more dream state and come alive to the vision of God’s plan for each of us and the world at large.
The older we get, the harder this is to do. As children, we had a sense of wonder. Our eyes were wide open and drinking in the fascinating gifts we beheld… our thirsty souls could not have enough of the wonders of creation.
Then, somehow, we grew too old to dream. We tired of the abundance of the world, grew weary of keeping up with the feast of life, and stepped away from the banquet of life.
The natural gift of wonder God gave us as children was meant to be kept alive… instead we let wonder go to sleep. We entered the typical dream state of most humans.
Why else does Jesus tell us today, ‘Stay awake!’…Advent says… ‘Wake up and realise the gifts of love you have received.’
Psychology says, ‘Let go.’ Spirituality says, ‘Wake up.’ In both cases what is needed is a withdrawal from the busyness of daily life and our dream state and a waking up to the subconscious and spiritual depths of ourselves.
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