Today is the First Sunday of Advent. Before beginning this homily, I would like to take a quick look back. We just finished a five-week homily series titled, "Something for You." God does not want something from you. He wants something for you: Faith, Communion, Abundance, Confidence and Power.
God wants something for you. The problem is you can turn down God's offer. you can take it or leave it. He has given you and me freedom. We can accept or reject his love - his mercy.
Now, you might think, "I've got plenty of time." That type of thinking, Jesus tells us today, is foolhardy. It's like drinking and driving. Or to use Jesus image, walking into a trap.
If you still think, , "Those warnings I've heard before." Pope Benedict has a word for you. When he was a young priest, he warned people to not become complacent. He told this story
A traveling circus in Denmark caught fire. To fetch help the manager sent his quickest runner, who happened to be the clown. The clown was already dressed in his uniform so when he told the townspeople about the fire, they began to laugh. No, he said, the fire is blazing and it could spread across the dry grass and threaten the village. "Please, bring buckets of water," he pleaded. The people applauded his performance and as he became frantic, they laughed till they cried. The fire did spread and it engulfed the village. It was too late. Both the circus and the village burned to the ground.
At the beginning of Advent I feel a bit like that clown. But to tell you the truth, I feel even more like one of the townspeople. Like you I've heard the warnings before. I want to be amused, not take action.
Today things are different. If you laugh at me, no big deal. But this warning comes from Jesus himself. We are on the brink of something major, yet we may miss out. To show how we might be missing out, let's take a look at today's text in its context.
Sometimes I wish we were like the Evangelicals - everyone at church with Bible in hand. I would tell you to open to Luke, chapter 21. You would see immediately that the next section is about Holy Week - the Passion. That's the context of Jesus' warning.
Jesus' call to vigilance relates to his coming Passion. By drowsiness and distraction people miss the most important event in human history. As the week advances most do not see the significance of what is happening. They don't pay attention - or if they do, they see Jesus' Passion as one of those spectacles the Roman so skillfully stage. They want distraction, not conversion. They miss out.
You and I may miss out. Perhaps not by getting drunk and carousing. We have other ways of distracting ourselves. For some it may involve drugs or pornography. Our bishops have issued a major document on pornography. I encourage you - especially parents - to read it. Pornography causes a person to miss what Jesus is offering.
But it does not necessarily require something as addictive as porn or drugs. We've got other other ways of distracting ourselves. We've got cable TV, the Internet, Facebook, Smart Phones - not to mention, shop until you drop! The devil is not picky. He wants to distract you and me. He wants us to miss out.
We will see more about this in coming weeks. During Advent I ask this question: Are you missing out? That's our Advent theme.
Today we hear Jesus' warning. He issued it on the brink of Passion Week - the most important events ever. "Do not become drowsy," Jesus says. That's our task: Do not miss out. Step back from constant distraction. Take instead the example of the Psalmist. He speaks to God, "For you I wait all the day." Amen.