Playing And Praying


1st Sunday Of Advent 2022

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: November 27, 2022

Recently I was at a meeting at a school in which they were discussing issues about recess and how the young children were having difficulty with play.  After two years of Covid they struggled with recess play time.  They were coming up with a strategy to support them in playing.  Imagine that we have to teach children how to play!

Well, we live in a society that only considers things to be important that are useful, doing something that is productive in some way.  Pure play just for the sake of playing can seem a waste of time.

I think there is a connection between playing and praying.  Prayer can also seem to be useless, a waste of time in our society.  It does not achieve anything or produce anything, at least not in a visible way.  Both praying and playing are missing at times in our society.

We are too busy, have too many useful things to do, so we do not have time to play or to pray.

How many do not have time just to play with their children and how many of us say we do not have time to pray?

Jesus says to his disciples, “Keep Awake.”  I do wonder if most of us would even notice if Jesus came to us today?  We are so busy being productive, doing useful things, being busy.  Doing many things, full schedules, rushing to get the list done from our to do list.  But, are we spiritually asleep?

We do not pray to produce something, we do not pray to make something happen, we do not pray with any expectation of achieving something.  We simply pray to hopefully be awake to the presence of God coming to us in our daily life.  Our prayer does not make Jesus come, our prayer might allow us to be awake to notice Jesus coming in our daily life.

“I am bored.”  How many will say that today?  “I am bored.”  Is it that life is boring?  Is it that this universe is boring?  Every moment, every encounter, every person, everything has the potential to be the presence of Jesus coming to us, has the potential to be a moment of grace.  It is not that it is boring, it is that our hearts and souls are not awake to notice the grace.

In the great silence of God, we need to keep awake.  Prayer can help us to be awake to God in utter silence, in the most difficult moments of life.  The silence of God is not the absence of God.  Quiet moments of prayer throughout the day can keep us awake to recognize the grace of God.

Before everything we do, very simply say, “Come Lord Jesus.”  When we are cooking dinner for our family or friends, when we are going to visit an elderly parent struggling with dementia, when we are going on-line, when we are visiting a friend, when we are going for a walk, when we are commuting to work, when we are coming to the church for Mass, when we are going to do our Christmas shopping, just stop before going and pray, “Come Lord Jesus.”

That little moment of reflection before anything we do will maybe keep us awake to see the grace in that person or moment.  It does not need to be long time in prayer.  Simple and short before each new thing we do.  Praying in our heart, “Come Lord Jesus”

During this Advent, take time to pray and to play.  Both of them are useless and unproductive.  But both may be able to keep us awake and ready to notice the grace in each person, in each place and in each moment.

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