To be attentive and to stay attentive is very hard. It takes a significant effort to stay focused on the task at hand. And yet, this is what the Lord is asking of us in our 1st Sunday of Advent readings. As much as we like to think we can multi-task, it has been proven that it’s better to focus on one thing at a time than to try to juggle multiple activities at once. How many of us try to juggle prayer with our daily activities, only to come to the conclusion that we are failing to pray as we ought? Currently, I’m thinking of all the things I need to do to get ready for Christmas, from liturgical duties like extra confessions and Masses to buying Christmas presents for my niece and nephews so that I can keep the title of “Coolest Uncle.” Yet, in all these tasks that need to be done, the most important task should be preparing my heart for the Lord and his coming.
The Advent season begins a new liturgical year for the Church. Similar to the resolutions we make for our calendar New Year, the Church is asking us to make a resolution now. In the Gospel today, the Lord is asking his disciples, which include us, to keep watch for his coming. We need to recommit to being attentive, and to preparing our hearts to receive the Lord. Isn’t that much easier said than done?
The winter season naturally is a perfect time for refocusing. As the sun sets earlier each day, nights come sooner and the temperature begins to drop. Have you ever walked outside on a crisp cold night? I feel that during these late night walks my thoughts become clearer and prayer becomes easier. Maybe it’s the cold waking me up, the silence as nature is hibernating in the darkness, or maybe it’s the awe of looking up at the stars on a clear night. The Advent season seems to help us turn even more towards reflective prayer, just as the Lord has asked it of us.
I’d encourage you to take advantage of this Advent season. Don’t get up caught up so easily in the noise and distractions of preparing for Christmas, or in the busyness of daily life. Instead, take the time to pull away and be attentive to the longings of your heart for our Lord who has come, is coming, and will come again.