Sunday, November 29, 2020

1st Sunday of Advent: Vocations of vigilance

Fr Richard's words for today

Readings: Universalis: Mass

Vocations of vigilance

"Stay awake" is the message of this first day of Advent. We're reminded that we don't know when the Second Coming of Christ will take place. And so we must be always prepared and stay attentive as we await the Last Day. 

The Parable of the Vigilant Doorkeeper and Servants shows that God has provided a context of how He wishes us to "stay awake". The Lord calls each of us to a vocation  - a particular state of life which has its own "manner", if you like, by which we remain ready for the coming of Christ in glory, and therefore, for the final judgment. The parable outlines the responsibilities of we who are parts of the Body of Christ, the Church.

The house owner who goes abroad leaves his home in charge of servants, who each have their own task. Christ tells all his disciples to "stay awake" as they fulfil their missions. Scholars associate the doorkeeper with Holy Orders, and in particular, pastors. Priests, bishops and the Pope "guard" the door of the Church, and the members of Christ's faithful serving inside. They protect the Church from dangerous intrusions by the evil one and by things that threaten to distract the faithful, such as false doctrines. Pastors are also tasked with feeding and enriching Christ's servants. St Paul alludes to this mission in today's Second Reading from 1 Corinthians, where he thanks the teachers and preachers for their witness. Today, therefore, please pray for your priests (which I know that you do generously anyway). Pray that they may be good "doorkeepers" in protecting the Church, God's holy people.

To those who are married and have families: your "way" of staying awake is to continue to be loving and faithful to your spouses, to care for your children, and, critically, to hand on the Faith diligently to them. To be faithful and generous wives, husbands, mums and dads is to be God's true servants, going without sleep at all times (in some cases, in reality as well as spiritually!). 

Religious men and women "stay awake" by their dedication to a life of prayer as well as apostolic service. The consecrated single life is a vocation of remaining vigilant by a total uniting to Christ. 

And to those who've not yet discovered their vocation - "stay awake" by continuing to discern what God has called you to do. Allow the Lord to mould and shape you as a potter works on the clay, an image we hear in our first reading from Isaiah.

Whatever our vocation is, or wherever we are in our journey of determining it, we know we are given the gifts of the Spirit if we stay close to Christ and the Sacraments of His Church. These gifts of grace help and strengthen us to stand ready for the day of our liberation.

Advent is a golden time of allowing the Lord to renew and enrich us in the living of our "watchful" vocations. It's a wonderful season of quiet meditation on the mysteries of Christ. Take opportunities to go into "retreat" mode, even if only for a few minutes. Reflect on where we are in the living of our own vocation: What are the joys and blessings I want to thank God for? In what ways am I "being vigilant" in living my vocation? What are the areas I need to bring to the Lord for his healing and help?

May we live Advent as a season of deep reflection on our "vocations of vigilance". We make one of the intercessions to Jesus from last night's Vespers our own: "You will bring us wisdom, fresh understanding and new vision. Come, Lord Jesus, do not delay."

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