The message that runs all through the Readings for this Sunday in Advent is one of being prepared… of staying awake… of keeping our eyes and hearts open to the coming of the Lord.
Modern man is not one to enjoy the process of waiting. In terms of our relationship with God, the waiting of the faithful is so often fraught with disappointment. The fulfillment of God's promise of peace and justice so often seems delayed and improbable. In every age, but especially in our own times, believers seem to be besieged by evil, swamped by misfortune and almost overcome by catastrophe. We lose heart; we become impatient.
The voice of God echoes in the words of His Son: "Be strong! Don't be afraid. Stay awake… you must be prepared." This spirit of hope and reassurance must fill our Advent journey. In unwavering faith, we must look beyond the sufferings and trials of the now to see the good things that are happening because of Jesus and of His message of Hope.
But Jesus just didn't respond with words of hope: The blind were now able to see, cripples could walk, lepers were cured, the dead were raised to life. Our presence in this chaotic world must be the same kind of sign. Our lives must proclaim the same miracles of love, of healing, of reconciliation. Our goodness and compassion must touch those who are blind and deaf to the Lord. Our mercy and acts of service must free those who are crippled by pride and hate.
Most of all, I think the temper of our times calls for us to banish fear and be sources of strength and courage to those around us who are really destroyed by the evil of our day. So many of our brothers and sisters have lost hope. They are convinced that the forces of evil have prevailed. They want to give up. Many people don't have the heart to keep trying. They don't have any reason to rejoice, to celebrate, to sing and dance in the Lord.
As we prepare to be touched again by the mystery of Christmas, we should try to be more fully aware of the many ways that God continues to visit us, to touch us, to announce good news to us. But He comes in unexpected disguises, in strange circumstances, using unusual people and places.