One thing I always do during Advent and Christmas holidays is to slow down and watch movies. I am sure many of us have watched “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” the 1998 American Christmas family comedy directed by Arlene Sanford. It follows college student Jake Wilkinson, who has not been home for any holidays because of a complicated family relationship. When he finally decides to return home for Christmas, his father promises him a car only if he makes it home by 6 p.m. for family dinner.
On his way back home, Jake is involved in many distractions and adventures. He finally makes it home just a few minutes before the dinner. As promised, his father gives him a car, but Jake refuses the car, saying he does not want a Christmas based on consumerism and material things. However, he made the most crucial gesture in the family: he accepted his stepmother into his life.
One of the Biblical verses that struck me this Advent is Mark 13; 33: “Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time will come.” In the rush of our modern lives, filled with fast food, express lines, highways, speedy internet, final exams, reading and grading, the Gospel verse calls us to watch and pray. Waiting, watching and listening is a challenge in a world that prefers instant gratification.
Advent, however, invites us to a pregnant waiting that can be compared to a lover eagerly awaiting the return of a beloved after a long separation. Advent is a season of hope, a time to wait in joyful anticipation for the coming of our Savior who came more than 2,000 years ago, who is still coming in our daily life and will come at the end of our life. The reality is that in our spiritual journey, we often yield to sleepiness, a lack of attentiveness to God’s presence in our daily lives because we don’t have time to slow down and watch Him in the people and events surrounding us. Slowing down is the remedy, providing space for spiritual care and allowing us to recognize God’s mystery in our lives.
As we embark on this Advent journey, let us be attentive, alert and awake to the ways in which the Lord enriches our lives. Let us recognize that, despite our withering, God remains faithful, ready to shape and mold us anew. Let us listen to our deeper longings for life, light, love, truth and joy — ultimately, a longing for God.
In the spirit of Advent, let us heed the call to stay awake, not in passive idleness, but with an active and alert anticipation of the Lord’s coming. We are entrusted with the task of growing in our relationship with the Lord, being in prayerful communion with Him, and witnessing to His presence in our daily lives. Advent encourages us to give more time to prayer, to embrace a contemplative spirit and to make the simple Advent prayer, “Maranatha, Come, Lord Jesus,” an integral part of our lives.