We Need to be Mindful of Right Now

11-27-2022Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Did you ever realize how much of our time is spent thinking about what is next or where we will be shortly, such as if you are driving to work you think about what is going on at the office, or when you are at work you think about the drive home. Although we are where we are, we do spend a lot of time thinking about where we will be. We often do not live in the present, but live more in the future. Today is the First Sunday in Advent. Are you thinking about Christmas, or are you thinking that this is the First Sunday of Advent and that now we light one candle in the Advent Wreathe because this is the beginning and the first step to Christmas? Are we willing this Sunday to be a light, yes a single light that breaks up the darkness of life for others and helps light the way to the celebration of the Salvation of our world, the Nativity of Jesus Christ in four weeks?

The prophet gave us, in this first reading, an image of a messianic time which is bright. This vision is found again in the angelic greeting “Peace on earth to those on whom God’s favor rests.” Notice how all the nations stream up the high mountain and that people come holding their work tools which are used to make things. Their tools are not tools of war, but tools of peace. The messianic time will be a time of peace and justice among all nations. There will be no more war.

When Matthew was writing his Gospel, the followers were eagerly awaiting the Return of Jesus. They expected Him immediately and thought there was no reason to take and use their tools of labor and life. They should simply wait for the Second Coming of Jesus because it would be any day soon. Matthew had to deal with this practical problem. Matthew used the story of the people of Noah’s time. They were unconcerned about the things of God and obligations to other people; they were simply living life on the surface. They did not foresee any problem or trouble ahead. They lacked a depth of soul. Noah, however, had this depth of soul and as a result he saw, understood and acted.

To be sure in the time of Jesus people wondered and asked about the end times of life. Most folks, however, continued working and doing what needed to be done; only some also paid attention to life’s meaning and would be actually prepared when the end times came. The point of all this is that when the Lord comes, the one who is awake to God’s enduring presence will be ready and welcoming; all others will not.

Our second example in the Gospel is of the thief, it is meant to warn the listener that we all need to be vigilant. We are expected to be careful and pay proper attention to the things of God and thus be prepared when the Lord returns.

Paying attention to the present moment is difficult; another way of expressing this is the word “mindfulness”. We need, all of us, to know that we are at the beginning of Advent and should be lighting one candle that would shine today and throughout this week that helps others to see that the Birth of Jesus is coming and that we need each day to prepare. We need to be mindful of right now.