Lord, transform my drowsy heart for Advent
A Reflection for Saturday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Find today’s readings here.
“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.” (Lk 21:34-35)
Well, folks, here we are: the very last day of the church’s liturgical year. Most people marked the occasion last Sunday during the Feast of Christ the King, but we still had six more days in the lectionary until the First Sunday of Advent. Today’s readings are for you, reading this email, and the faithful remnant who go to daily Mass on Saturday, but not the Sunday vigil (I assume some of you are out there). Advent starts tomorrow, but let’s linger in Ordinary Time for just a few more hours.
Today’s readings, like most readings in November, are quite apocalyptic. Even though it can seem like Scripture is pointing toward a day that is long off in the future, Jesus is giving us directions on how to live in the here and now. Yes, the day of reckoning is coming (and it sounds like it’s gonna hurt: “For that day will assault everyone”), but we’re instructed to live in such a way now: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy, from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life.”
Even though it can seem like Scripture is pointing toward a day that is long off in the future, Jesus is giving us directions on how to live in the here and now.
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy.” What does a drowsy heart feel like? Speaking from experience, I have a few ideas. A drowsy heart is distracted and worn down. It is limited in its vision and ability to love. It feels like walking in a circle, lost. It invites pity on itself. It longs for love and healing and knows not how to ask.
At some point, all of us have felt like this. Maybe you have a drowsy heart coming into this Advent season. Maybe the year has totally beaten you down and you desperately need a retreat, but instead are faced with the relentless end-of-year craze.
Advent is a season of waiting, of preparation. Now, there are at least three ways you can wait for something. One is trembling, just wait until your father gets home, anxious fear of punishment. Another way is like a spouse waiting for a partner to return from a long business trip, preparing a warm meal and awaiting an overdue embrace. A third method of waiting, which I’m calling the drowsy-heart method, is to totally put something out of sight, out of mind. It’s like procrastinating on a final paper until the night before, when you realize that you’ve got to write 10,000 words in 8 hours (if you are a former professor of mine reading this, then this is definitely purely hypothetical).
Of these three options, which most describes your relationship with God’s coming this year? Perhaps as we wrap up the liturgical year today, as we rake the leaves, eat the leftovers, and hang the Christmas lights, let us ask God to focus our hearts in the here and now, to transform our drowsy hearts so filled with anxiety into ones with burning desire.