To watch Father Joe’s homily for the First Sunday of Advent, click here!
There’s an old joke that says that while some kids were out playing in the parish yard, they saw Jesus coming. They ran into the Church Office and excitedly told the Secretary. The Secretary looked out the window and then ran to the Faith Formation Director. The staff member hurried into the Administrator’s Office and pointed out the window. The administrator then burst into the Pastor’s Office with the crowd trailing her and said, “Jesus is on the playground and he is headed for the office! What shall we do?” Seeing everyone very flustered, the startled pastor dropped his agenda and turned his chair to look out the window. Suddenly, he stood up, grabbed his hat and stole and car keys, and shouted, “Look busy!”
This story may not be too far from what Jesus says in today’s Gospel, “Be watchful, be alert!” Advent may well be the most overshadowed Church Season, that we have. Our world has been talking and selling and singing Christmas for at least a month. Our culture’s preparations for Christmas (and maybe even our own Christmas preparations) can be very distracting when it comes to the Advent Season.
Yet today, we are being asked for the next 22 days of Advent, to watch, to be alert to the signs of God’s presence. Watching, being alert for the ways in which God desires to direct us and guide us.
You’ve got to love the Prophet Isaiah today, “Lord, would that you might meet us doing right, that we would be mindful of Your ways. O Lord, you are our Father; we are all the work of your hands.”
What Isaiah is addressing is something we do not like to hear. We do at times go astray, forgetting God’s call, forgetting God’s presence among us. And, Isaiah begs God to wake the people up to what God is trying to form them to be.
And then there is Jesus, urging his Disciples (and we are his Disciples of today) to pay attention to what is happening not only in our lives but in the lives of the people around us and in the world in which we live. We are not being called to spy on others or to judge others and what others are doing… But rather to watch and be alert to what we are thinking, doing, feeling, giving and faking…
Put another way, to examine our actions and interactions to see if they are aligned with those of the Gospel. What is it that we say is needed in our world today, in people today, that we are in need of living more, living better, living more faithfully?
Maybe it is justice, kindness, respect, cooperation, peace, quite, helping others, sharing, acceptance, forgiveness, understanding…
What is it that would make our world not only a better place, but a world that reflects more and more the Kingdom of God here on Earth as it is in Heaven?
Just maybe the task of Discipleship is not so much to “look busy,” as it is to BE alert.
Alert to the opportunities to live the Gospel in and through our lives daily as person, family and parish. Lives that are the work of God’s hands in and through each of us and all of us.