In preparation for the first Sunday of Advent, the Archbishop of Los Angeles has said the season is a time to spiritually “stay woke,” shaking off apathy and becoming more aware of God’s presence.
“My prayer for us this year is that we will make this Advent a spiritual adventure of living with a new awareness of the presence of God,” said Archbishop José Gomez in a Nov. 28 column.
“Advent is the time for us to wake from our sleep! When we are ‘awake’ to who God is, then we are ‘awake’ to who we are – and how precious every life is.”
The archbishop explained that Advent is a time of waiting for the coming of Christ at Christmas, but it is also an opportunity for God to draw closer to his people in relationship, noting this desire of God to be close to creation is a unique aspect of Christianity.
“And we believe that our God comes to be with us, that he loves us so much that he makes himself one of us – sharing in the whole experience of our humanity, beginning as a little child in a mother’s womb.”
“This is the beautiful truth we anticipate in these short weeks that lead to Christmas,” he said.
Archbishop Gomez warned Christians of becoming “numb” to the presence of God. He referred to the examples in New Testament, citing the Apostles who fell asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane and servants who did not stay awake for the master’s return.
Reflecting on the social media #staywoke, the archbishop said that “remaining awake” means more than just awareness of social and political issues. Instead, he said that Advent is an opportunity to be “‘awake’ to who God is,” and “awake’ to who we are — and how precious every life is.”
“So, we can make a new effort during this holy season – to slow down a little in our lives; to turn down the volume a little; to take some time and make some room in our lives just to be quiet with God.”
This takes practice, he said and cited the example of the recently beatified Blessed Solanus Casey. The archbishop said that although many miracles have been attributed to the Capuchin priest, they weren’t what made him holy. Rather, it was his desire to serve God constantly, and to find God in the present.
“This is our purpose in life – to be faithful to the present moment. When we are ‘awake’ to God’s presence, our hearts are open to doing his will and living according to his loving plan for us. And he has created us to do great things,” he said.
Archbishop Gomez called on Catholics to pray to be made more aware of God’s unlimited love and to understand that the person is most alive in this love.
“We need to talk to God and tell him: ‘Lord, I know that you are near me. I know that, in your love, you come to walk with me.’”