"Advent is the spiritual season of hope par excellence, and in this season the whole Church is called to be hope, for itself and for the world. The whole spiritual organism of the mystical body assumes, as it were, the 'color' of hope."~ Pope Benedict XVI
Gospel text (Mt 24:37-44): Jesus said to his disciples, «At the coming of the Son of Man it will be just as it was in the time of Noah. In those days before the Flood, people were eating and drinking, and marrying, until the day when Noah went into the ark. Yet they did not know what would happen until the flood came and swept them away. So will it be at the coming of the Son of Man. Of two men in the field, one will be taken and the other left. Of two women grinding wheat together at the mill, one will be taken and the other left.
»Stay awake, then, for you do not know on what day your Lord will come. Just think about this: if the owner of the house knew that the thief would come by night around a certain hour, he would stay awake to prevent his house to be broken into. So be alert, for the Son of Man will come at the hour you least expect».
Today, in this Sunday, when we are just entering the time of Advent, we are also starting a new liturgical year. We can use this status as an invitation to refurbish some aspects of our life (spiritual, family, etc.).
In fact, we need to live our life, day by day, with a new rhythm and hopes. Thus, we can move the danger of routine and boredom further away. This feeling of permanent renewal is the best way to be alert. Yes, we must be on the alert! It is one of our Lord's messages that He transmits in the words of today's Gospel.
In the first place, we need to be alert because the reason of our mortal life is the preparation for eternal life. This time of preparation is a gift and a grace from God: He does not want to impose upon us neither his love nor heaven; He wants us free (which is the only way to love). A preparation that we do not know when will it end: «We announce Christ's advent, and not only one, but also another one, the second one (...), because this present world must eventually terminate» (St. Cyril of Jerusalem). We must, therefore, struggle to keep a hopeful attitude of renewal.
In the second place, we must be alert because routine and adjustment are not really congenial with love. In today's Gospel the Lord reminds us how in the time of Noah «people were eating and drinking» and «Yet they did not know what would happen until the flood came and swept them away» (Mt 24:38-39). They were “busy in other things” and —we have already said it— our time here must be a time of “betrothal” for our freedom to ripen: the gift that has been granted to us not to get rid of the others, but for our deliverance to the others.
Most of the world did not notice Jesus' first coming. We need to stay awake and notice how he comes to us each day. What about those special graces that come to us each day? What about those amazing opportunities that he gives us each day to love him more and more. When we are inattentive, when we are lazy, when we are indifferent, we miss out on so much. Advent is a time to wake up and to leave aside our laziness and tepidity. "Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come" (Matthew 24: 42).