It’s Advent again, my friends. This is a time for us to prepare ourselves for the return of Jesus. One might ask, aren’t we to be doing that daily? I agree that we should. We get caught up in everyday living, however, and this takes us away from what we as Catholic Christians should be about. Don’t you think we need a reminder? Maybe not as dramatic as Advent, but we may need a nudge about five times daily and in turn, we need to encourage each other, especially our leaders in government and in the Catholic Church. I call that reminder or nudge, to do what Jesus would want us to do, an Advent intervention.
During Advent we hear a voice calling out from the desert, a loud voice that echoes out from that time until now. A voice is calling us today proclaiming that the time is here! The time is now, not tomorrow or next year, it is now. We are reminded that we do not know the time, day or hour when our savior is to return. So what are we waiting for? How will we greet Jesus? Are we busy doing what God created us to do, or do we need an Advent intervention to awake us from our slumber?
Jesus left us some specific instructions about how we should prepare for his return. Did you feed me when I was hungry? Did you clothe me when I was naked? Did you visit me when I was a prisoner? Did you comfort me when I was in distress? Did you greet me as a brother or sister? Did you take the time to pray for me?
Has our vision been so impaired that we cannot see Christ in all our brothers and sisters? We need an Advent intervention!
It seems that the instructions Jesus has handed over to some of us have been discarded, but we need to find them again. We need to find them as the Catholic schools in urban areas across this country are closing. We need to find them as urban parishes are closing at a rapid pace. We need to find them as the poor are not worthy for health care. We need to find them when unemployment is high and they choose not to extend unemployment benefits. Lord we need those teachings again and again, and we need to act on them as people of faith should. We need to find them when all the news we watch and see is about violence. There are more reasons that we need the teachings and to act upon the call of God to be our brothers and sisters keepers.
We need an Advent intervention!
Let this season of Advent be a time for individual and group revival. We need to hear the teachings of Jesus reverberate within our lives. We need to be more responsible disciples for the love of our brothers and sisters. Let’s learn again how to feed the hungry, not only with food but with the word of God; clothe the naked, not only with clothes but with the love of God; visit the sick, not only the physically wounded but the sin sick; visit the prisoners, not only in jails, but the jails that are self-made such as substance abuse and other self-imposed prisons.
We will need to rekindle the light of God in ourselves and let it shine on all we meet. Then we can tear down those mountains, which keep us away from God and level those roads so that we may make a u-turn back to our God. Let this Advent of challenging times encounter an Advent intervention immersed with Jesus’ grace and mercy because we have decided to act like his disciples, with open eyes, ears and hearts seeing, hearing and loving the Lord and all of his people.
Deacon Wardell Paul Barksdale serves as the permanent deacon at St. Bernardine in Baltimore.