In these first days of our Advent season, it’s pretty easy to get caught up in the excitement of anticipation and preparation. But as our Gospel reminded us at the beginning of Advent, now is not the time to get distracted.
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy… Be vigilant at all times and pray” (Lk 21:34, 36)
Pope Francis shared a reflection on this Gospel reading during his Angelus Address this week. He reminds us that vigilance is an essential part of our Christian life and an important aspect to focus on this Advent.
We don’t know how or when our earthly life will end. We don’t know how or when Jesus will come again. But we do know because Jesus has told us, that we must be ready at any moment.
Here is what He says: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.”
I don’t know about you, but the “anxieties of daily life” leave me pretty distracted sometimes. Maybe this Advent, we can take extra care to set our sights on what is most important—not how clean our home is or how well-behaved our kids were at Mass—but the state of our souls. Are our families ready for Jesus’ coming, not only at Christmas but also at the end of time?
Here’s how Pope Francis defines vigilance: not allowing “our hearts to become lazy or our spiritual life to soften into mediocrity.” He warns against apathy.
“Be careful because we can become “sleepy Christians” – and we know there are many Christians who are asleep, who are anesthetized by spiritual worldliness – Christians without spiritual fervor, without intensity in prayer, without enthusiasm for mission, without passion for the Gospel; Christians who always look inwards, incapable of looking to the horizon,” said Pope Francis.
The secret to avoiding this lazy and sleepy Christianity, says the Holy Father, is prayer. Even on the craziest, busiest days, he tells us to never neglect our prayer. It’s what keeps our relationship with God going strong and centers our life around what is most important and essential.
This time of year can be so incredibly distracting. We know what we are meant to focus on but there are so many things that can draw our mind and heart away from the center of it all. Above all, look to Christ day after day as we await His coming.
As Pope Francis prayed to the Mother of God, “may she who awaited the Lord with a vigilant heart accompany us during our Advent journey.”