|I don’t know about you, but I am not great at waking up in the morning. I’m even worse at it in this time of the year, when the morning is still dark and it’s significantly colder on the other side of the blankets. I try to encourage myself by putting my alarm clock (read: phone) across the room. Its soft but insistent tone does indeed awaken me, but I am adept at hitting the snooze button, taking the few steps back across the room, and rolling back under the covers.
John the Baptist played the role of alarm clock in salvation history. His was not a soft, insistent tone like mine, but a startling, uncontrollable ringing like those old metal clocks with the bells and hammer on top, the kind that might cause a minor heart attack first thing in the morning. “WAKE UP! Get moving! There’s no snooze button – it’s time to get to work!” Perhaps, with John the Baptist as Elijah, the first reading today would end, “Blessed is he who shall have seen you and stayed awake.”
John pointed to Jesus the way Elijah pointed to God – with a fiery call to repentance. Still, the first reading prophesies Elijah to “bring an end to wrath before the day of the LORD” and “turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons.” He calls for peace and reconciliation. I find it interesting that the parents’ hearts turn back; in scripture, isn’t it usually the younger generation that is called to remember their ancestors and the works God has done in the past? Elijah calls parents to turn their faces towards their children. In the psalm, we as God’s children respond, “Make us turn to you; show us your face, and we shall be saved.”
Advent is a season when we remember the demands of our past (salvation history) and future (fulfillment of the Kingdom) on the present, calling us to action. This is a season to remember that we are on earth for a particular purpose. We may have fallen asleep to our vocations as baptized members of the Body of Christ – but we need to wake up!
“A Voice Cries Out” (Joncas)