The Noah Factor and ten tips to observe the Advent
"This one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead." (Phil 3: 13). This scripture verse summaries the spirit of the advent season. Moving from one calendar year to the other does not bring newness or transformation. We cannot just brush aside the pains and struggles of yester days or years. However, the different seasons create occasions to see things from various perspectives. They present new opportunities to change and transform the present. Life moves on. We strive towards perfection.
Notes on Today’s Gospel Mt 24: 37-44
- Today’s gospel functions like a hinge that links the end with the beginning. It reminds about the past in order to make a qualitative change in the present. Liturgically it links the end of the liturgical year with the new liturgical year.
The time of Noah
The comparison with the time of Noah brings out the lethargies and taken-for-granted attitudes of the present. We take for granted so many things: the environment, the other and God. It is only when such presumptions are disturbed that many look around with anger and irritation.
The world is in a mess but everyone goes on to peruse his/her own desires, plans and projects. There is a growing dissatisfaction with the way things are going, whether it is in the household matters, interrelationships and neighborhood or in the level of global disarmament, global warming, poverty, wars, and world peace, etc. Everyone looks for changes but not interested to take up the responsibility.
The Noah factor
The Noah factor brings out change. The Noah factor looks at things differently and enables to work for the change of the situation even though it may look like the most unlikely proposal. Noah was not better than the people of his time. He was a lover of wine. What made him unique was his courage to be progressive and his openness to the plan of God. He listened, worked and built relationship with God. In the process, he listened, worked and built relationship with his family, nature and all that is in it.
The ability to make a new beginning is the spirit of advent. The present situation may be a story of struggle in your life. You can make a difference and hold your dear ones together because the Lord comes to help you. Prepare to receive him. Be the "Noah" and prepare a crib to hold God's Love.
Let us cooperate with God to make a difference by making a spiritual ark; an ark that hold new relationships/ restoration of relationship. Advent season is all about being like Noah who listens, works and holds his family together.
Ten points to observe Advent
Today's second reading is full of instructions to observe a meaningful advent season. A closer reading gives us ten points to observe the advent season meaningfully.
Romans 13:11-14 Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires (NRSV).
- 1. Know what time it is
An awareness of the time/season is very important. The awareness is the first preparation and ground of all that we observe. We change and adapt different life styles according to the seasons. Advent is the time for hope and time to look for better, brighter future. The whole world is in a period of preparation to receive the Lord. Hence, the season generates so much of goodness and grace. Be enthusiastic about the advent season.
- 2. Wake up from the sleep
Awareness of the time gives us alertness. Advent is a time to wake up to perform something: to accomplish, restore, correct, learn, begin. Wake up from the spiritual sleep to get ready for the vigil. The silent night is going to be a very special day in your life.
- 3. Lay aside the works of darkness
Wake up to receive the Light, light of the world. In him, you are the light of the world. Do not be hiding under the bushels of your petty differences. Come out, be on the lamp stand and let your light shine. Advent season is a time to lay aside the works of the darkness.
- 4. Put on the armor of light
Col 3: 12 As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (NRSV).
- 5. Live honorably as in the day
The advent season is a time to examine and re-orient our lives to live with the dignity and honor of the children of God. It is a time to discard or correct the ways that make us as causes for dishonor. This is my favorite prayer during the advent.
Oh! My Jesus, "Do not let those who hope in you be put to shame because of me; do not let those who seek you be dishonored because of me” (cf. Ps 69: 6 NRSV).
- 6. Avoid reveling and drunkenness
Traditionally, we observe 25 days of abstinence in view of Christmas. Such practices are gradually disappearing in the media-hyped-market- driven-Christmas culture. It is good if you can put certain restraint upon you. Such actions will give you spiritual alertness.
- 7. Avoid debauchery and licentiousness
The season has so much spiritual dimensions attached to it. The pure in heart will see God. As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, certain amount of purity for both mind and body will help us to experience the coming of the Lord.
- 8. Avoid quarrelling and jealousy
Certain amount of inner silence is good for any preparation. Keep silence and avoid situations that will ignite quarreling and expressions of jealousy. We prepare to receive the king of Peace.
- 9. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ
Christmas is a time to wear new clothes. Naturally advent becomes a season of hard work to earn little extra to do the shopping. May God give us prosperity. Remember, it is also a season to wear a new spiritual dress that is created in the image and likeness of his son.
10. Make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires
Mortification is an outdated word. It still it has some relevance. Acts of mortification is to witness that we do not live by ‘bread’ alone. It is good to avoid excessive food and parties during this season of restoration.