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Liturgy and Life

By Gertrude Rompré


First Sunday of Advent, Year A
November 27, 2016

Isaiah 2:1-5
Psalm 122
Romans 13:11-14
Matthew 24:37-44

Let us go!

Keep awake!

Be ready!

I’m surprised to hear these very active phrases as we embark on our Advent journey. Often Advent is billed as a still, silent time — a time of expectant waiting. We light candles, we sing, “O Come Divine Messiah.” We pray in the dark evenings and contemplate the period of gestation before the birth. What the readings remind us, then, is that gestation is a holy and active time, even if this activity remains hidden. It is a time to be ready, awake and go!

Be ready for the journey ahead. We are a pilgrim people on a journey toward the “mountain of the Lord.” In that holy place everything is transformed. Swords are turned into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. What is at war within us is invited to lay down its arms. So, this somewhat understated season of Advent becomes an invitation to engage the greatest activity of all, that of inviting peace into our troubled souls and broken world.

Peace-making is an activity. None know this more than those who are committed to non-violence. They know being pacifists does not mean being passive. They know building peace is hard work that, like gestation, is often hidden in the recesses of our every day lives. It means setting out into the deep, casting our nets into the unknown, and crossing the boundaries of our own security. Inviting peace into our lives means finding the courage to enter into relationship with those — and those parts of ourselves — that we perceive to be the enemy. It’s hard work. It’s active. It’s the call that is put forth to us today.

The Advent call also requires us to be vigilant, to be awake! The gospel reminds us that the householder would not have lost her treasure if she had kept awake. In this Advent season we are called to open our eyes, pay attention, and recognize the presence of Christ in our midst. Being awake means being alert to the coming of the Lord in unexpected places. As we move toward Christmas, there will be a lot of static, a lot of background noise. We’ll be bombarded with tinsel and tinny-sounding carols about red-nosed reindeers. Will we be awake and recognize the coming of the Lord in the midst of the distractions?

Yes, we wait during Advent, but we wait actively. We wait for the coming of our Lord. It strikes me, though, that often waiting and vulnerability go hand and hand. I remember once waiting with a friend for food at the food bank. It took forever, waiting in a waiting room full of other hungry people. The time of those living in poverty has little value so we waited, aware that the next meal was in another person’s hands. The waiting we engage in during Advent is that same sort of waiting. It is the waiting that makes us aware of our vulnerability and our desperate need for the One for whom we wait. It reminds us that everything about us depends on the grace of the One who comes to us “through the cry of a tiny babe.” In the waiting we actively embrace our own vulnerability and peace is born.

Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord! What a wonderful invitation. In the house of the Lord peace is born. In the house of the Lord, we come to recognize Christ in unexpected places. In the house of the Lord, our vulnerability is embraced by the One who has loved us into being. May you be blessed in your waiting this Advent season.

Rompré is the director of Mission and Ministry at St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon.