Advent — Being Awake For God
In the thirteenth chapter of the letter Saint Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome he says: “The hour has come … the night is far spent, day is near. Let us, therefore, cast aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us conduct ourselves honorably as in daylight, not in revelries and drunkenness, without lewdness and debauchery, without quarrels and dissension. No, put on the Lord Jesus Christ.…” Advent, accordingly, means to get up, to be awake, to rise from sleep! What is Saint Paul trying to say? What he means by “night” he expresses clearly through terms such as “revelries, drunkenness, lewdness, and quarrels”. The nighttime orgy with everything it implies is for him a representation of man in darkness, man asleep. It serves him as an image of the pagan world as such, a world drowning in materialism, persisting in the darkness of its blindness to the truth, and fast asleep in spite of all its loud and hectic activity, because it ignores the essentials of our vocation as humans. The nocturnal orgy as an image of a world gone wrong—are we not compelled to realize, with dismay, how accurately Saint Paul describes here our own times as well, times that are sliding back into paganism? To rise from sleep—this means to rise from conformity with such a world and with such times, courageous in virtue, courageous in faith to shake off the dream that prevents us from recognizing our vocation and our highest potential. The songs of Advent, which we hear ever so often during these weeks, could perhaps become for us beacons of light that show us the way and make us lift up our eyes to acknowledge promises so much greater than those based on money, power, and pleasure. To be awake for God and for our neighbor—this is the meaning of the Advent call to stay awake. Such staying awake finds the light and makes the world a brighter place.
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans., I. Grassl, Ed.) (pp. 379–380). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.