Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, November 27, 2011
[ Advent Sunday in the Christian Kalendar ]
Therefore, keep awake-- for you do not know when
the master of the house will come, in the evening, or
at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he
may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And
what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.
From the version of the Gospel called “Mark”,
chapter 13 [ appointed for Advent Sunday, 2011 ]
[ The full text can be found at http://www.lectionarypage.net/YearB_RCL/Advent/BAdv1_RCL.html ]
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
[ The Collect for Advent Sunday ]
“When will God be born in me?” Christian spirituality sees this as one, if not “the” essential question for every human being. It lies at the heart of the human longing to discover, to experience, the full meaning of being alive.
Christianity recognizes this by making the Incarnation, the birth of Jesus the “son of God”, the first of the Great Mysteries it celebrates in the yearly liturgical journey. On the surface, the Incarnation seems to be about God’s Son born in human form. But it is far more! It is about the immense mystery we call Life manifesting Itself in you, in me. The Biblical Creation stories use another rich image to speak to the same issue: God breathing the Spirit of Life into the inert dust to make human beings.
The liturgical season of Advent, meaning “to come to”, prepares us for this Coming, this In-Breathing of Life. First, with an apocalyptic vision of the End Times and of Christ’s Coming. Secondly, with the appearance of John the Baptist, proclaiming the Coming of the Messiah. Thirdly, John the Baptist’s call to Be Prepared - how to be open. And Fourthly, Mary, representing all human beings, told that God, Life, will come and be born in her ….. reminding us that we each are Theotokas, God-bearers.
For me, the possibility that at some End Moment of Time the Son of Man will come to judge, to reward or punish, is imaginative, thought-provoking ….. but mostly irrelevant. My concern, my passion, is: “now, in the time of this mortal life”, am I awake to Life’s “daily visitation”? We understand “God” to be the Fullness of Being, and that we human beings participate in that Godlikeness. We have Life to live it fully.
For that to happen, we must Be Awake. We must learn what Life is about, what constitutes fullness of humanity. And, as the great 17th C Jesuit spiritual teacher Jean Pierre de Caussade once said, “God speaks to us in everything that happens to us”. Are we paying attention?
The season of Advent tries to awaken our heart, mind, spirit, body, everything that constitutes our human nature, to God’s Coming ….. to the journey to fullness of Being. And the liturgical year keeps pulling us back to the Mystery.
May we “Keep Awake”.