“The closeness of God and our vigilance” are the two key words that the Holy Father presented in his homily at Holy Mass with the new Cardinals, this 1st Sunday of Advent, celebrated at the Altar of the Chair of the Basilica of St. Peter.
Renato Martinez – Vatican City
Come Lord Jesus, we need you. Come closer to us. You are the light: wake us from the sleep of mediocrity, wake us from the darkness of indifference. Come, Lord Jesus, make our distracted hearts be vigilant: make us feel the desire to pray and the need to love ”, is the invocation of Pope Francis in his homily at Holy Mass with the new Cardinals, celebrated at the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter’s Basilica, this November 29, 1st Sunday of Advent.
In his homily, the Holy Father, commenting on the readings that the liturgy presents at the beginning of Advent, said that the Word of God suggests two key words: closeness and vigilance. “The closeness of God and our vigilance. While the prophet Isaiah says that God is close to us, Jesus in the Gospel invites us to watch, waiting on Him ”.
Advent, a time to remember the closeness of God
Pope Francis, commenting on the first word, closeness, said that “Advent is the time to remember the closeness of God, who has come down to us.” Therefore, the first step of faith is to tell the Lord that we need him, we need his closeness. «It is also the first message of Advent and of the Liturgical Year, to recognize that God is near, and to say to him: ‘Come closer!’ He wants to get closer to us, but he offers himself, he doesn’t impose himself. Advent reminds us that Jesus came to us and will return at the end of time, but we ask ourselves: What good are these comings if he does not come into our lives today? Let’s invite it. Let us make our own Advent invocation: “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20).
Let’s not run the risk of losing the essentials
In this way, the Holy Father points out, invoking his closeness, we will exercise our vigilance. It is important to be vigilant, because a mistake in life is losing yourself in a thousand things and not realizing God. And quoting Saint Augustine, who says: «I fear Jesus passing» (Sermons, 88,14,13), “I am afraid that Jesus will pass and I do not realize it”, the Pontiff warns us that, attracted by our interests and distracted by so many vanities, we run the risk of losing what is essential. That is why today the Lord repeats “to all: be vigilant!”
To be vigilant is not to be carried away by discouragement
In this sense, Pope Francis exhorts us to be vigilant, this means that it is night. Yes, now we do not live in the day, but in waiting for the day, in the midst of darkness and work. The day will come when we are with the Lord. It will come, let’s not be discouraged. The night will pass, the Lord will appear; He, who died on the cross for us, will judge us. To be vigilant is to expect this, it is not to be carried away by discouragement, it is to live in hope. Just as before we were born those who loved us awaited us, now Love itself awaits us. And if they wait for us in Heaven, why live with earthly pretensions? Why worry about getting a little money, fame, success, all ephemeral things? Why waste time complaining about the night while daylight awaits us? Why look for a little … (godparents?) To get (get) a promotion and go up and promote ourselves in the career? Everything happens. Watch, says the Lord.
There is a dangerous dream: mediocrity
For this reason, the Pontiff invites us to stay awake, however, it is difficult. Sleep is natural at night. The disciples of Jesus, whom He had asked to watch “at dusk, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, at dawn” did not succeed. And precisely at that time they were not vigilant. At sunset, at the Last Supper, they betrayed Jesus; at night they fell asleep; they denied the crowing of the rooster; At dawn they allowed him to be sentenced to death. But the same stupor can fall on us. There is a dangerous dream: the dream of mediocrity. It comes when we forget our first love and move on out of inertia, worrying only about having a quiet life. But without impulses of love for God, without waiting for his novelty, we become mediocre, lukewarm, worldly. And this eats away faith, because faith is the opposite of mediocrity: it is the ardent desire of God, it is the persevering courage to convert, it is courage to love, it is to always move forward.
How can we wake up from the dream of mediocrity?
The Bishop of Rome affirms that, we can awaken from the dream of mediocrity with the vigilance of prayer. “To pray is to turn on a light at night. Prayer awakens us from the warmth of a horizontal life, raises our gaze upwards, tunes us to the Lord. Prayer allows God to be close to us; therefore, it frees us from loneliness and gives us hope ”. Prayer oxygenates life: just as one cannot live without breathing, neither can one be a Christian without praying. And there is a great need for Christians who watch over those who sleep, for worshipers, for intercessors who, day and night, bring before Jesus, the light of the world, the darkness of history.
A second inner dream: indifference
The Holy Father warns that there is a second interior dream that is dangerous, it is the dream of indifference. “He who is indifferent sees everything the same, like at night, and does not care who is nearby. When we only revolve around ourselves and our needs, indifferent to those of others, the night falls on the heart. We quickly start to complain about everything, then we feel that we are victims of others and in the end we make plots of everything. Today it seems that tonight has fallen on many, who demand only for themselves and are disinterested in others.
How can we wake up from this sleep of indifference?
Pope Francis points out that we can awaken from this second dream with the vigilance of charity. Charity is the beating heart of the Christian. Just as you cannot live without your heartbeat, you cannot be a Christian without charity. Some think that feeling compassion, helping, serving is something for losers; In reality it is the safe bet, because it is already projected towards the future, towards the Lord’s day, when everything will pass and only love will remain. It is with works of mercy that we draw near to the Lord. We ask this of you today in the collect prayer: «Revive in your faithful […] the desire to go out to meet Christ, who is coming, accompanied by good works ». Jesus is coming and the way to meet him is indicated: they are works of charity.