First Sunday of Advent


By Lucinda M. Vardey

Advent with its short, dark days, is a period for preparation. While Christmas tunes are piped through the malls, and gifts are being bought and wrapped, it takes discipline to focus on what we are really preparing for.   Baking seasonal cookies with a friend, we could be one of those two women in today’s gospel, “grinding meal together.”   It is a busy time, but as American monk, Thomas Merton, noted busyness can be a disguise for laziness.

St. Paul reminds us not to turn our attention to personal gratification and desires, but to be cognizant of what it takes for each of us to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Jesus instructs us to be spiritually alert, aware of what distracts us from focusing on what matters most.  Just as he asked the sleeping apostles in the Garden at Gethsemane, he asks the same of us:  “Keep awake and pray.” (Mark 14: 38)

Prayer helps us keep awake to God’s presence and to grow in God’s love. The Lord can then “teach us his ways .. that we may walk in his paths….”(Isaiah 2:3)

By being vigilant towards what matters most, we are more able to recognize how God is directing us, shaping us and providing for us.  Being awake to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we keep open the doors of our hearts, prepared for the surprise that Jesus’ coming will bring.