John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: A voice of one crying out in the desert, who says: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight the paths for Him to you.
The usual words for Advent are “repent” or “prepare the way” or “wait for the Lord” or to “stay awake.” Some of those phrases you heard today; last week we heard the stay awake one, too—meaning that we are to keep alert in our faith.
I think back to my decade spent years earlier in St. Mary’s county with the convergence of deer-hunting season (with firearms) with the start of Advent. The ricochet echo sound of a rifle shot fired somewhere in the nearby woods would be my alarm clock for a few days at November’s end and December’s start. To get to know some of my parishioners and that particular lifestyle there, I found myself waking up with some hunters for a few early adventures. I did not carry arms, but watched them do what they regularly do. They’d go pre-dawn to hiding spots in trees and behind boards called blinds; then they’d get very still but for sipping on a beverage, and they’d wait. And they waited. And they’d sit and wait some more, and feel a bit cold. But they didn’t move nor have a cell phone on for so to scare the deer. Nor did the hunters close their eyes for a moment, so as to not miss out on a big multi-point buck that could appear. Those prize deer don’t come on any timed schedule nor do they announce their incoming presence—this opportunity just happens randomly and suddenly to the hunter–so one stays awake.
Most of them as Catholics did not seem as diligent in their Faith practice, so forgetting that to be ready and waiting on The Lord Who comes is a most important thing. Advent reminds us so of that-better be awake to it.
2/ There were lots of woods in where I lived—especially in my Medley’s Neck time down there—but once was an occasion when my not owning any hunting rifle, like the Winchester XPR rifle with scope, was not needed to get me a deer. My Ford Taurus and I found us one crashing on the front hood and windshield while driving down on a country lane. My car got utterly totaled; but I did get me my first deer! I and my passengers came out fine, unlike the big 200 white-tail with rack.
Stay awake, for you do not know the Day on which your Lord will come. Turn around and notice what is there or soon coming—it is not a trophy buck who is blended into the scenery but prancing by, but it the Lord of Accountability of our Lives. “I am Coming Again,” Jesus promised.
We hear in the Gospel today that repentance of sin is like a pre-dawn readiness and vigilant manner for success in the spiritual life. We hear in the 1st Reading, that of Isaiah 11, that we can be receiving and using of the seven-fold gifts of the Spirit and Messiah, too. What does that entail?
1/Wisdom—it’s our keeping to a big picture with our life view, so to realize the long-run issues and values to keep up so that we should not be tripped up by temporal sinful lusts of the flesh. 2/ Understanding—It’s to realize how we are a spirit and body person—two-in-one—and how they are to work in tandem. You can’t divorce what is going on poorly in your mind and body, with what spiritual progress you’re going to make. 3/Counsel or Right Judgment. God has given us reason and abilities to choose from right and wrong, and to draw on our experiences as a learned pattern for virtue or for vice. 4/ Knowledge—by our being filled with our known lessons and with the Church’s own 2000 learned lessons —we have a storehouse to draw upon for how to live. We all know some methods of how we can camouflage ourselves from evil’s threat—by ‘hiding’ in virtuous faith—hiding in the Shadow of the Almighty (Ps.91).
3/ Now if your knowledge is lacking (the proverb says; “there, due to lack of knowledge, so do the people perish”) –yes, if your knowledge is lacking, then why not pick up that Bible or Catechism or get into a church program to know what you need to know. 5/ Fortitude or Courage. The world is out there striking fear into many people. Yet God’s Word says “Be strong and courageous” so do live by it. 6/ Awe and Wonder or Fear of the Lord. We are called to be in awe of God and in appreciation of all created things by Him. There are the wonders in science—but the fact that it is all from the hand of the Creator. 7/ We are to end up in Reverence or Piety for it all.
But it takes open eyes of the heart, and devoted attention towards God! We are in need to be of help to one another in our shared alertness to God among us. I help you and you help me. You notice; I notice —the godly business at hand. The Kingdom building. Amen.
Can you see the hunters with arrows in their camouflage?