All kinds of things and situations can keep us awake.
For some people, caffeine will do this.
Other substances with some stimulant will do the same.
But anxiety, fear and worry, will have the same effect: prevent us from sleeping.
On the other hand, a phone call announcing some unexpected good news or the anticipation of a pleasant event will probably keep sleep away.
The gospel text of this 1st Sunday of Advent (Year B: Mark 13:33-37) is short
and yet we are told four times to keep awake, to stay awake!
Stay awake not to watch a good movie on the screen, or play a video game.
Not to work on the computer, or read a novel.
But then, to do what?
Stay awake to wait for the Lord.
For many people, these words evoke the end of the world, or perhaps the moment of death.
This understanding is correct but, to my mind, incomplete.
Personally, I am convinced that the Lord can come at any moment, in every situation –
Not necessarily at the end of time, or the end of our lives.
His coming is discreet, gentle… it come under the form of
- a word of praise from a colleague
- a new idea for a project
- an additional supply of patience in a trying situation
- some encouragement from a friend who sees I am at my wit’s end
- an increase of strength when I just can’t go on
- the sudden understanding of the puzzling reaction of a loved one…
His presence can become close and very real in whatever happens if only we are alert,
AWAKE to his being there with us.
The period of Advent starting today is a good time to do this from day to day.
Note: Another reflection on a different theme is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/1er-dimanche-de-lavent-annee-b-2020/