Advent is a time to wake up. As St. Paul wrote to the Romans (13:11), “it is the hour for you to rise from your sleep.”
But what do we need to wake up from?
In his famous epiphany moment on a street corner in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas Merton noted,
I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers.
It was for him like “waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world.”
For him it confirmed his common humanity with all who live, with all members of the human race. He was not someone special and being a member of the human race was not something to be despised. Even “God Himself gloried in becoming a member of the human race,” he noted.
We are in this together.
This morning as I welcomed almost fifty young people into the catechumenate in Dulce Nombre, I reminded them that they were no longer alone. They are part of the community of faith. They can wake up from the nightmare of isolation.
But that means that we also are called to wake from the nightmare of individualism and self-isolation.
When we do that, what happens?
Merton put it well:
There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun…. There are no strangers! … If only we could see each other [as we really are] all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed…. I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other….
I reminded the catechumens that when they were signed with the cross by their sponsors during the rite, the sponsors got on their knees before them when they traced the cross on their feet.
Advent is a wake-up call – to fall down in reverence before all people who are shining like the sun, like the Sun of Justice, Jesus, who comes with healing on his wings. (Malachi 3:2)