SLOW DOWN AND UTILISE THE ADVENT SEASON
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
1st Reading: Jer 33:14-16; Psalm: 25. R. v. 1; 2nd Reading: 1Thes 3:12-4:2; Gospel: Lk 21:25-28. 34-36
We are in a world of speed. Things are happening so fast like the speed of light. A kind of speed too attractive to resist. The speed of the internet, the airplane, the microwave, machines and even transactions. It is an exciting reality that has not only thrilled the world but has impacted on the human mentality generating a new lifestyle. We have inevitably become as busy as the realities of life have turned us to be; such that anybody below par is considered obsolete and awkward. Although this has saved us a lot of time and energy, but sadly it has affected our patience – the patience to listen, to pray, to reflect, to spend time with family, to visit a sick friend, and even to come to church. We are no longer as patient as we ought to be.
As a result of this, we have transferred our love for one another to love for things. Things are now loved and human beings are now used. It is unfortunate.
And so, as we begin today the first Sunday of advent, Jesus warns us in these words: “But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth.”
The cares and troubles in our world today can make us to be Missing in Action (MIA) in the places we are supposed to be and in the things we are supposed to do. We create a lot of time for ourselves but struggle to squeeze out time for the things that matters most.
Jesus further warned us that it is in the midst of distress, perplexity and troubles in the world that the Son of Man will come in a cloud with power and glory. Put differently, it is when we are distracted by the realities of life that the unexpected happens. There is this saying that a man’s pleasurable moment is his weakest. We can only be caught unawares when we are distracted by the cares of life.
But no one wants to be caught unawares. No one wants to be missing in action in what he is supposed to do and in where he is supposed to be. And that is why if we don’t want to find ourselves in this condition, we must SLOW DOWN, learn patience and give God our time.
Yes, it is true and obvious that our world is a world of speed, things are moving so fast and we are all moving along with these developments. But the Christian world has a different standard. If we move too fast, we will miss out in the things we are supposed to know and do. And so there is that need to slow down. Our God is not the God of speed, he is not the God of the internet, and he is not the God of noise. Our God acts and speaks to a calm, patient, and gentle soul.
Remember Elijah’s encounter with God on Mount Horeb in 1Kgs 19:11-13, “there was a great wind that rent the mountains and broke the rocks into pieces, but the Lord was not in the wind, and after that came an earthquake but the Lord was not in the earthquake, after the earthquake came a fire but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire came a still small voice, it was then that Elijah heard God speaking to him. So there is no how we can hear God when we are too busy or distracted to hear him.
Advent is a period we need to slow down and patiently give God our time. If we do this, God will open our eyes to realise that we have not prayed enough, loved enough, and given enough. We will see how so much we have been missing in action in the things we ought to do as children of God. And then God will begin to change us and prepare us for his coming.
Advent is a time of repentance. A time we make a decision to henceforth do only the things that pleases God and desist from whatever offends him. We have to create time to go for confession and be reconciled with our God and neighbours. We have to let go of that hate, anger, hurts, and unforgiveness and begin to love.
Advent is not a time to live in regret. Having realised how much we have failed and missing in action, we need to move on. Many of us are so busy think of how we wasted our yesterday that has come and gone; and while doing so, we end up wasting our today because we were busy thinking and still living in our yesterday. You know what? The circle will continue because the yesterday of our tomorrow will also be full of regrets. Let our past be our past. It belongs to the past. Just right the wrong and move on. Unlearn to relearn.
Advent is a time to love. It is a time to realise that God loves us and wants us to be saved. And that’s why he is reminding us today to be ready so that we may not be found wanting when he comes in his glory. And the best way to be ready is to begin to love others just as Christ loved us. St Paul in the second reading of today prays for us in these words: “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all men, as we do to you, so that he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.” (1Thes 3:11-13).
Advent is a time to pray. It is a time of watchful prayer. In the words of Jesus, “But watch at all times, praying to have strength to escape these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man.” (Lk 21:36). Watchful prayer means steadfastness in prayer life and good living. It means we must not relent in these. A watchman does not go to sleep; he keeps vigil to know when his master comes that he may open. Never get tired in praying and in living holy lives so that we may be found ready at all times.
When Christ comes, may he find us in watchful prayer and ready to welcome him.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, grant us a fruitful season of Advent. Amen.
I wish us all a very fruitful season of Advent.