by Msgr. Joseph Calise
A FEW YEARS ago I was flying back from a funeral in Naples, Florida, to a funeral in New York.
Actually, it would be better to say that I was trying to fly back. The airport that night was a series of problems which were compounded by the fact that I was going from funeral to funeral and really could not risk not getting home.
Since both funerals involved friends, my spirits were already low and the confusion was not helping. But, there we were. At first I was not too concerned about the delay. It seemed as though it would only be a few minutes. I began getting a little nervous when the desk agent kept announcing delays with a promise of updates when the plane got near.
There seemed to be some hope when the plane arrived but we were informed that there was a mechanical problem. We were delayed waiting for repairmen who did eventually come. However, it took them so long to arrive that the time allowed for our crew to work had elapsed and we had to wait for a relief team.
We did get off the ground and make our way home about six hours late — but in time for the funeral.
While at the airport, it was difficult passing that much time. I watched people get angry and saw how useless that was. Others fidgeted in discomfort. Some simply bought another book and accepted that there was nothing they could do about the situation. The ones that most baffled me were the ones who slept. I wish I could have but I needed to get on that plane and would have been terrified at the possibility of missing the flight. It was important to me so I needed to stay awake.
“Stay Awake!” That is the advice Jesus gives His disciples in today’s Gospel. Later in the Gospel, He will ask them, “Could you not stay awake with me?” before He is led off to Pilate.
“Stay awake!” invites us to awareness, to being alert to the presence of Christ and open to the call to respond to Him.
Today is the First Sunday of Advent, not only the beginning of our preparation for the Christmas season but also a time of being awake, aware and alert. The word “advent” comes from the Latin, adventus, which is a translation of the Greek word, parousia, which is a reference to the second coming but also brings to mind the waiting of the Jews for the Messiah in the Old Testament.
An Advent Carol?
Although Charles Dickens’ classic is called A Christmas Carol, I think it could just as easily be An Advent Carol. It tells the story, of course, of Ebenezer Scrooge and his encounter with the Spirits of Christmas — past, present and yet-to-come. In those Spirits we find an Advent message.
We remember Advent Past, the longing of the world for the Messiah, the Promised One of the Old Testament. Advent Present keeps us mindful of Christ present in His Church through His people and uniquely in the Eucharist. He is here now. We need to remain watchful for His appearance, whether he shows Himself as a lonely neighbor or a hungry stranger. And Advent Yet-To-Come is the day when He returns to bring all things to Himself. And for that day, we must stay awake, keeping ourselves spiritually ready at any moment.
Advent is our opportunity to acknowledge the power of the Promised Messiah living among us and to open our hearts now to the strength He gives us to stay awake for His return. Because it is important to us.[hr] Readings for the First Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 63: 16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7
Psalm 80: 2-3, 15-16, 18-19
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13: 33-37[hr] Msgr. Calise is the pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish, Williamsburg.