It’s the first week of Advent: the beginning of our journey together. This journey is all based on preparing ourselves for Christmas by preparing our house, which is the intimacy of our heart.
Gospel for the First Week of Advent (Luke 21:25-28, 34-36)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars,
and on earth nations will be in dismay,
perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.
People will die of fright
in anticipation of what is coming upon the world,
for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
And then they will see the Son of Man
coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
But when these signs begin to happen,
stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand.
Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.”
1. Work in Progress
“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars….”
There’s at least one thing at home that we don’t like to do, but we seem to hear our mother’s voice saying: clean up! The first thing we do when someone comes to visit us, even if it takes some effort, is to clean up a little.
What will we take away? The Gospel speaks of signs. So perhaps we should wash the windows of our house, of our interior house, in order to see what is outside. To see the signs that Luke speaks about, we must have a clear eye, the capacity to see what is happening and to recognize where it’s coming from in order to discern what these events are saying to us. The Gospel passage speaks an apocalyptic language, but the evangelist suggests that we welcome these little signs and understand, in light of the Word of God, what these signs are pointing out for our life.
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life….”
Perhaps we are also invited to dust. Dust is almost imperceptible but it covers everything in a thin and unpleasant layer. We could compare dust to those thoughts that weigh on our life, to our anxieties. They may not be true defects or sins but they are all those situations that trouble our mind and heart and cover the beauty of our soul. Dust is the franticness, the thousand things to do, the offers that the world makes us but that leave us buried, whitewashed. Once dust is taken away, we shine with lightness and joy.
What will you take away this week?
2. Preparing the Feast
“And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads….”
Our guest is coming! Let’s make a welcome sign to put on the door. We are not afraid of the one who comes because we know him, because from the Gospel we have intuited his great love for us. Our daily, concrete life has meaning because, if God became incarnate, then what is human is important and we are part of a life that certainly suffers and weeps but that in its turn produces other life.
“Be vigilant at all times and pray….”
Our guest is coming! Let’s prepare a dessert. Making a cake requires precision in quantities, attention to time, passion, and…making a cake means there’s a party. Waiting is joy, it is hope in the future. It is remaining with our eyes fixed upward, toward heaven, with the happiness typical of children because Jesus, our awaited friend, will bring us the gift of his consoling friendship. Ours is the word of guarding the dream, of cultivating it with tenderness.
What will you prepare this week?
3. A Whispered Word
Now let us write our prayer, a sign of what we desire to say to Jesus, our guest.
O Jesus, dear friend, each year you are born for us at Christmas. I desire to savor the waiting. Prepare me to encounter you with new enthusiasm. Help me to live this time as an occasion to know you better through your Word and to love you better through prayer. Teach me patience, to wait with my face uplifted and all my senses awake to perceive and welcome the signs of life’s beauty in me and in others, and the beauty of your presence. For with you, every moment will be a feast, every moment will be a celebration.
What will you say this week?