We might conclude that the opposite of being awake is to be asleep. Could also mean to be unaware. The message Jesus preached was awareness—not about doing right or doing wrong—as so many like to assume—but awareness—recognition of the Kingdom. Therefore the opposite of being awake is apathy—numbness—not caring. We walk like we’re in a trance—not paying attention to each other, much less to the Kingdom. The phone, the I Pad, the computer—they have our attention. But we seldom pay attention each other. Result: strangers living in the same house—a co-existence of relatives who have a living arrangement but not a family. Each person watching their own TV, eating their own food, and playing their own games. The madness is now considered normal behavior. We have come to accept the indifference because everybody’s doing it. When phones are confiscated people actually exhibit signs of withdrawal—shows that they are addictive. Ever watch some folks at a restaurant? Ever notice what happens when people are not eating—just sitting and waiting for their food? They are all on the phone—playing games, texting or using the internet. Anything to avoid being present to the moment. We don’t know how to wait. We have forgotten how to be still—how to be aware. Distractions galore—and Black Friday has become a distraction like no other. A myth has been created—to shop on Black Friday will buy us true happiness. Maybe not in those exact words—but such is the underlying message. The deal of our life is waiting—all we have to do is to be willing to camp out in front of a store in order to be the first in line.
Wish some of the same energy could be transferred to coming to church. We will always get a better “deal” with God. His grace is always on sale—not just at 50% discount but free. No cost, no strings attached, nothing in return. Too good to be true—that’s why so many do not believe. What God offers is too good to be true, but it is true! He loves us just because. Our response is to try to love Him back and to see Him in our brothers and sisters.
That’s the hard part. Some people do really well in saying their prayers, coming to church and keeping out of trouble—they just can’t stand Mexicans, or they don’t like gays or people who are fat. That’s where the “being awake” part comes in. When we are awake to the beauty of the Kingdome there can be no room for discrimination. Loving people is not an option, but a commandment. The only one that Jesus gave us. Jesus is not like Santa Claus who is concerned with whether we are naughty or nice. The Lord did not come to give us a rule book on morals or ethics. He came to open our eyes to the love of God for us, especially the least among us. The Season of Advent affords us the opportunity to learn how to open our eyes—to stay awake in spite of the countless distractions. We want to be like the Blessed Mother, like St. Joseph, like the many saints who were able to see God in the ordinariness of life. Nothing sensational about sitting down to have a conversation with the family or a lonely neighbor. In caring out daily tasks like sweeping, washing dishes, doing the laundry—comes the revelation that God’s mercy is all around. The Lord is saving us every moment—drawing us closer to Himself. Forget about which day the Lord will come—He’s here today.
Awareness is a great gift. A whole new world opens up. Stay awake—The Lord is near.