First Sunday of Advent 2019
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: December 1, 2019
St. Paul says it is time “for you to wake from sleep.” Jesus says “Keep awake”, to be ready for the coming of the Lord. The season of Advent is all about waking up, paying attention, to be prepared for the coming of the Lord. How do we prepare ourselves, to be ready for the coming of the Lord? Just saying prayers is not good enough.
Jesus refers back to the story of Noah’s Ark. How everyone was going on with life as usualcompletely oblivious to what was about to happen. The day Noah entered the Ark they knew nothing till the flood came and swept all away. They thought that everything they were doing was so important. They did not even notice what was about to happen. Everything they thought so important was wiped away in an instant.
What about us today? What are we spending all of our energy doing? We are so focused on things that will not endure. I wonder, with all the warnings that humanity is receiving about climate change and the dangers for life on this planet. Are we going to just keep living the same way not paying attention to what is happening to our world? Will we be like the people at Noah’s time who knew nothing until the flood came and swept everything away? Do we need to wake up, pay attention, see what really matters before it is too late?
The Prophet Isaiah in our First Reading offers us a vision of God’s plan for our world. In that poetic vision Isaiah says, “they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
We will only be ready for the coming of the Lord if we begin to live that vision of God now. Pope Francis in his recent visit to Japan spoke out clearly about the need to do away with nuclear weapons. He also spoke about the hypocrisy of speaking about peace while we continue to make money selling arms for war. To be ready for the coming of the Lord, we need to be people of peace, to work for peace. That begins with our relationships, at home, at work, in our community.
Even our words can become weapons. Words that we use to strike out at people. Including the words we use on social media. Beating swords into ploughshares requires our nations to review our dependence on the sale of arms, it will require us to change the words we use from instruments that harm others, to instruments that bring peace.
Jesus says that at the time of the coming of the Son of Man, “two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.” If we look at those two people, you would not notice anything different on the outside. But, one had a heart ready for the Lord and one had a heart that was not ready.
Is my heart ready to meet the Lord? Well, do you pay attention to the people in your home, in your family? Do you pay attention to the people where you work or study? Are there people around you struggling and you do not even see it? How can we expect to be attentive to the Lord’s coming if we are not even able to pay attention to the person living in my own home or to my neighbour?
Pay attention to the grace of God right now in your life, the grace of God in the people around you, the grace of God in creation. If I am not able to recognize the hidden grace of God around me today, then how can I expect to recognize the Lord in his coming?
It is time for us to wake from sleep, keep awake, prepare for the coming of the Lord. Are we awake to what is happening in our world right now, including what is happening to the planet which is our common home?
Are we embracing the vision of the Prophet Isaiah, turning swords into ploughshares? Are our words instruments of peace and healing? Are we paying attention to the people in our own home, the people I see each day?
When we pay attention to creation, pay attention to the people around us, embrace a peaceful way of being, then we will have a heart that is awake and ready to meet the Lord.