“DARE WE HOPE?” (Mt 24:37-44): 02 December 2007 (First Sunday of Advent)

“DARE WE HOPE?” (Mt 24:37-44):  02 December 2007 (First Sunday of Advent)

Reading: www.nccbuscc.org/nab/120207.shtml

I watched the movie “Evan Almighty” recently.  As many of us know, it’s about a newly elected congressman, Evan Baxter (Steve Carrell), who is all set to start his term when strange things begin to happen–e.g., the number “614” appears everywhere and all sorts of animals follow him around.  “614” turns out to be Genesis 6:14, where God commands Noah to build an ark.  And soon enough, God himself (Morgan Freeman) appears to Evan and, to the novice congressman’s dismay, gives him almost the exact same instruction. Despite his initial reluctance, like every good prophet, Evan finally concedes and actually becomes passionate about his cause.

I wasn’t surprised when the movie made me laugh, but I certainly was surprised when it made me cry!  “Evan Almighty” is a moving “feel-good” film that also offers a couple of lessons that we can use as we begin this season of Advent.

Lesson #1:  According to the film, God doesn’t “give” things; he only provides opportunities for us to get things.  It’s a timely lesson for Advent, this season of waiting.  I’ve always found it strange to be told to wait for Christ’s coming when he already did over 2000 years ago!  But Morgan Freeman’s God is right:  It isn’t exactly the case that the gift of Christ has been given, but that the opportunities to unwrap this gift are always available.

Lesson #2:  The movie offers a somewhat cheesy but profound acronym of “ark”:  Acts of Random Kindness.  One way to change the world, the movie suggests, is through such “acts of random kindness.”  If we make it a habit to perform such acts, then the “day of the Lord” that the Gospel today warns us about will perhaps catch us by surprise, but certainly not unprepared.

That’s a couple of things we can keep in mind and do as we enter into the Advent season:  Look out for opportunities to find Christ in our lives and opportunities to perform acts of random kindness in the world.  If we find and avail of these opportunities, before we know it, we will have received the gift of Christ and with him–dare we hope?–the gift of a changed world.

(image: en.epochtimes.com/news)


‘WHO’S DROWSY?’ (Lk 21:34-36): 01 December 2007 (Saturday)

‘WHO’S DROWSY?’ (Lk 21:34-36):  01 December 2007 (Saturday)

Reading: www.nccbuscc.org/nab/120107.shtml

Jesus today warns us against drowsy hearts.  That’s a strange and almost funny image, isn’t it?  But it should be easy enough to imagine what the Lord means. He mentions carousing, drunkenness, and daily anxieties as possible causes.  These are things that keep us from doing what’s right, and from recognizing the Lord in our lives.  To recognize the Lord requires a fully alert heart; to follow him demands a self-disciplined heart.

The medieval mystics have another term for this “drowsiness of heart”:  “acedia” or sloth, one of the Seven Deadly Sins.  Sloth means spiritual apathy or laziness.  But I think today we have an even more familiar term for it.  It’s a complaint we hear all the time these days (even from five year olds!):  Boredom.  How easily we get bored these days!  How quickly we yawn and turn away, thinking to ourselves, “Been there, done that! What’s new?” and all the while, telling ourselves how cool we are not to be so easily pleased or satisfied.

Boredom can be a dangerous thing because it’s a symptom of having a drowsy heart.  When we’re bored, we are unable–or refuse–to be caught by surprise because we think we’ve seen it all.  When we’re bored, we make ourselves incapable of the sensitivity and the vigilance required to recognize the hidden Lord.

So maybe that’s one simple thing we can do today.  Just for today, let us refuse to let anything bore us.  Just for today, let’s try to look at the world with a little more wonder, a little more awe, and a little less drowsiness, even if the world has grown a little too familiar to us.  For all we know, God is there hiding in the most ordinary of things, and a valuable grace awaits us wrapped in the most boring of routines.  Just for today, can we refuse to get bored?

(image:  www.safety-council.com)