It is easy to become complacent about Advent. We feel good about Advent because it evokes warm feelings of anticipation and expectation as the Christmas season approaches. We are focused on family and friends. There are Christmas lunches that we attend with colleagues. Black Friday and Black Monday have together ticked off a few boxes on our Christmas list. There is a lot to like about Advent.
However, when we consider what the Church Advent readings point us towards we may be less sure of ourselves. There is much in the reading around this time that stops us short. We are placed before fairly stark cosmological imagery relating to the ‘end-times’ and a pointedly sharp note is struck in the call to ‘awake from sleep’. We’ve been sleeping-walking for quite a bit. We have become deaf to reality and blind to the realities around us.
Be awake! Be attentive! These are Advent messages. And, at the present time, there is no more relevant claim on our attentiveness than the plight of the homeless people we see each day on the streets. We have become complacent about the mounting figures for homelessness that appear on our TV news with depressing regularity. It’s a problem that is not going away anytime soon.
Let us make Advent 2017 a time when we begin to pay attention to the very personal claim that homeless people make on us. Let us invest some time in really coming to basic understanding of what is going on. Let us reach out in a personal way to homeless people that we normally pass by on the street.
The Lord is near. The time is now.