"Be watchful! Be alert!"
I’m often lost in my own thoughts. More frequently than I care to admit, my mind wanders and wonders about all sorts of things, which typically leads to a lack of awareness about the world around me. “Dad!" My daughter will say sternly, “I’m talking to you!”
My excuse has always been that it’s hard for me to multi-task. When I’m in the middle of something, I’d like to finish that thought (or email I’m writing, or article I’m reading online, or task I’m completing, etc.), and freely move onto the next thing when I’m ready.
However, if I’m truly being honest with myself, many times it’s the case that I’m naval-gazing. I’m worrying about something on my to-do list, thinking over some email I just got, or regretting the trade I made on my fantasy football team which tanked my season (true story). Getting lost in my own thoughts can quickly turn into only being aware of things that matter to me, and when something or someone comes knocking on my door, I’ll answer it when I’m ready. There’s a lot of “me” and “I” and “my” going on.
The rhythm of the liturgical year helps us to cultivate different virtues and dispositions which remind us that life isn’t about “me, I and my”, but about “God, you, and our.” During Lent, we pray, fast, and give. Every Sunday, we remember and celebrate Christ’s victory on the cross. And each Advent, we’re asked to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of Christ at Christmas.
During Advent, we remember how to wait. To anticipate. To hope. We call to mind Mary’s “yes” to God, and are invited to echo this “yes” in our own way.
Today’s Scripture reminds us to be watchful and alert for the coming of Christ. For me, this means getting out of my own self-absorption and being more aware of those around me. It means I should spend more time listening to what God is asking of me, rather than fill my brain only with things that seem to matter to me and me alone.
What is God asking of you this Advent? In what ways can you be more watchful and alert for the Holy Spirit active and alive in your own life? And in what ways can you prepare your heart, mind, body, and soul to receive the gift of God within yourself this Christmas?
Let us pray,
Heavenly Father, source of all that is holy, please take my selfish thoughts and self-centeredness. Bring grace into my life that I might move from "me, I, and my" into "God, you, and our" in my daily life. May every thought about myself be focused towards you and your people so that in loving service to them and perfect fidelity to you, I might give my life over to all that I meet. I say yes Lord to whatever it is that you are asking of me this Advent season. I am yours.
Each Sunday during Advent we’ll also take a moment to highlight the actual Scriptural sites where these passages during Advent take place. Today’s reading takes place on the Mount of Olives, which is a ridge on the eastern edge of Jerusalem, located across the valley from the what was the temple in Jesus' day.
Today, on the Mount of Olives you’ll find several sites of pilgrimage. Most significantly, you can visit the Garden of Gethsemane (picture 1), where Jesus prayed on the night of his betrayal. Pilgrims will also find Pater Noster (picture 2, which commemorates Jesus teaching the disciples the Our Father, Dominus Flevit, which remembers the time when Jesus wept over Jerusalem, and the Church of the Ascension (picture 3). Across the valley, you also have one of the most breathtaking views of the Old City of Jerusalem (picture 4). Enjoy pictures from our recent Holy Land Pilgrimage below.
This reflection was written by John Paul Lichon.
John Paul is the Founder of Verso Ministries. He lives in South Bend, Indiana, with his wife, daughter, and the newest member of the family due in March.