First Sunday of Advent

Advent is finally upon us; a time of preparation and expectation for the great Solemnity of Christmas- celebrating our God whose love is so immense that God chose to be like us, even being born as a defenseless infant. But how can we prepare or wait during this frantic time of year with only 21 shopping days left before Christmas? How can we prepare with so much to do: presents to buy, dinners to plan, guests to invite and decorations to place. How can we prepare when our heads, minds, and bodies seem to be spinning like tops? We can if we know how to prepare and for what one is waiting!

Today’s Gospel reading from Mark concludes with the phrase, “Keep awake!” which is a great way to begin this Advent season. Keeping awake does not mean standing still! Rather, wakefulness is an awareness we bring to our ordinary life- a realization of our own mortality and the precious gift of each day- and opening our eyes to search for God in the hustle and bustle of our routines. Being awake makes us aware of a God whose love is so great that He chose to share our humanity, reminding us of our noble dignity even as so many in the world view humanity as a problem. To be awake we do not have stop daily tasks or go on a thirty day retreat (though it is always wonderful to get away) but to ask where do I see God in my life now and what am I being called to do. Where is God in the chaos of Christmas preparations or in the delicious food or in the beauty of the decorations or in the joy of shared times with friends and family.

Just as important, how am I responding to bring God’s healing and peace! Does awareness of God lead me to listen and help those who suffer during this time of year because of loneliness, family issues or desperation? Where am I as an agent of peace and listening? “Keep awake” to see God in my life but also to see those who need my help today whether it is family, friends, co-workers or the poor who may be suffering in very different ways during this time of year. This may be a challenge- but God can help us if we are aware of God’s willingness to heal, help and bring life.

So on this First Sunday of Advent let us not blame ourselves for holiday busyness but take a few minutes every day to be aware of God in our busy lives and how we can help, love and heal those around us who are hurting.

Mission Doctors bring healing to the many suffering around the world- please remember them in your prayers and end of the year donations.

Brother John Kiesler, OFM

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