Opening the Word: Awake ye sleepers


We grow accustomed to even the most abnormal of situations. Since March 2020, the world has been under the threat of COVID-19. Public gatherings are rare, Masses are celebrated with little to no music, and each of us walks around town wearing masks.

We sense the unusual quality of this mode of life. We keep vigil for a coming vaccine that will spare us from the absence of human communion, from the death count that keeps growing. But until then, COVID-tide has become the new normal.

As Christians, we may also grow accustomed to the Gospel of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Each Sunday, we proclaim a narrative of salvation in the creed that should be enough to wake us from our sustained slumber.

He will come to judge.

But we mutter the words of the creed, not recognizing the reality that we proclaim. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The God-man died upon the cross to liberate us from our sins. He rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father — fully human and fully divine. And Jesus Christ, the son of the living God, will come to judge the living and the dead.

Dear friends, we Christians are living in the most unusual of times. It is not COVID that makes our lives strange. Rather we are meant to live as those who keep vigil for the second coming of Jesus, Our Lord.

Mark warns us. We do not know the time of the Lord’s advent among us. We are meant to be servants of the living, caring for the kingdom but also preparing for the return of Jesus.

And yet, we grow accustomed to his hiddenness. We say our prayers, give money to the Church, send our kids to school, work a job, seemingly unaware that all these very good things will pass with the coming of Christ.

Now is the time to awake from our complacent sense of normalcy. Now is the time to keep vigil for Christ, who will come to judge the nations, who will come to judge you and me.

Christianity is not a religion of moral maxims, a kind of wisdom cult for the respectable. It is God’s apocalyptic judgment upon history. Power and prestige, fame and fortune are paltry imitations of God’s power of love unto the end. A judgment enacted on the cross, where the death-dealing power of men and women were conquered by the seeming weakness of Jesus Christ, who returned no insult but carried the pain of the forgotten in his flesh.

Those who operate out of a lust for domination will be revealed for what they are. They are fake gods, imitating the power of the one triune God, who in the words of Isaiah can rend the heavens and come down, causing the mountains to quake.

Are we ready to recognize the coming of Our Lord, the apocalypse of God’s final judgment?

If we are not, Advent is the time to get ready.

The hidden Lord is present right now. He is present in those who suffer the scourge of racism, or who have no dime to feed their children. He is present in the Scriptures, in the word that shatters the powerful cedars of Lebanon. He is present in the Blessed Sacrament, forming us to recognize a judgment ordered toward a love stronger than death.

He is here!

Wake up, ye sleepers. Run to greet the hidden Christ.

And if we do, we will be prepared for the return of so glorious a master.

November 29 – First Sunday of Advent
Is 63:16-17, 19; 64:2-7
Ps 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
1 Cor 1:3-9
Mk 13:33-37


This article comes to you from OSV Newsweekly (Our Sunday Visitor) courtesy of your parish or diocese.


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