Happy New Year! Today is the new year on the church calendar, so we enter into the new year of the church today. It always begins with the season of Advent. Advent is really a time of retreat for us – a retreat for the church.
Usually, when we celebrate New Year’s, we always make resolutions. You make a resolution and you try to stick to it. We can do this right now as we enter into this retreat time of Advent.
Think about a resolution you can make for yourself to really make this a time of retreat. But for many of us, this time of Advent is far from a retreat. The gospel today is contrary to what we normally experience during Advent.
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and anxieties from daily life.”
Yet, this is the time of partying – one-holiday party after another.
We hear this warning to be aware. Carousing, which is Latin, means to drink to the bottom of the cup. Carousing is drinking until there is nothing left – drunkenness and overwhelmed by the anxieties of life.
I find it particularly interesting that we are also called not to give into the anxieties of daily life. I think for all of us there is probably some anxiety now, especially for the students, because there is anxiety about finals.
You are probably anxious about your finals and everything is mounting up as you try to finish your papers and your exams. Yet, we are called not to let our hearts become drowsy during this time. It should be a time of prayer for you. Also, for all of us during this time of holidays, there is always the anxiety of having to get to every event.
We have to shop and get everything done. We are constantly plagued by these worries, and then we hear this command to be free from anxiety.
Jesus says that these signs will happen when we have a reorientation. If Advent does not become just a season of parties and shopping, but really a time focused on Christ, our lives are going to become chaotic. The things that we normally prioritize will all of a sudden become unimportant.
When Jesus becomes important, he becomes even more important than parties. He becomes more important than friendships. He even becomes more important than family sometimes. We find that if we direct ourselves to him for a while, until we are in union, the rest of our lives are going to be in chaos.
So, during retreat, during the time of Advent, it might feel like your life is falling apart. Through it all, Jesus says these things will happen. There will be signs in the stars and the moon and the earth will shake.
Advent should really be a time that shakes us – especially if we have become drowsy. If there is any sin we have given into too much (and become drowsy and comfortable with it), Advent is going to be a time where God is going to shake us up and rock us.
When God shakes us up and rocks us, we have a tendency to think that God is not there. We have a tendency to feel that God has abandoned us when in reality he is doing everything he can to free us and to save us.
Make a resolution for this Advent. Let it become a retreat for you so that your lives can be reoriented to Christ. Know that when we do that dramatic things are going to happen. The earth and sky are going to shake. Our relationships may fall apart, but ultimately we will find our peace and our hope in the coming of Christ