The Readings for Sunday 1 Advent (Year B):
Jesus knows that the Holy Trinity neither leads us into sin, nor gives us permission to sin. God lets us go, though: he never holds us back, although he calls to us constantly. If we want to go another way, it’s easy enough. This is why the command is “Watch”! The Greek is ἀγρυπνέω agrypneo, coming from the words for “not sleeping”. The Greek word for sleep, hypno, is where I want to go today: because our modern spin on “hypno” is much closer to what Jesus is talking about than simply sleep.
Hypnosis: being so distracted by something that you don’t notice anything else. We spend our days hypnotized by our computers, our phones, our sex lives, our politics, our food pictures: anything but thinking about what is really important. This is sleep. This is death. The thing is, watching a screen for a couple of moments can mean hours in the real world! It can be as simple as waiting for a bus… but your eyes are glued to the screen and your finger is numb from the cold. And you’re trapped.
It’s easy for us to see the electronic hypnosis that most of us use (some of us are employed to create it), but this is only a second-degree of hypnosis. The world, itself, is a distraction, a huge sleep machine that draws us away from God, away from each other and, in the end, away from our very selves. I’m not just avoiding you, God, the world, and everything. I’m avoiding me. We know this to be true because we have a God-shaped hole in our hearts. The entirety of Creation tends Godward – except for us. We tend to trend away and we do so while convinced that we are driving towards something.
It’s easy to explain this graphically. If the universe is nearly an infinity (or close enough to infinity to make no difference) it’s mathematically impossible for two specks to drive towards each other and touch. Only by moving Godward, towards a new infinity, can any of us come closer to each other. Anything that keeps us away from that other infinity destroys our chances at making it here, now.
And then we die.
As I was writing that a retweet came across my feed: my friend retweeting the AP that a ICBM had been launched by North Korea. That’ll snap your attention to, let me tell ya!
God doesn’t harden our hearts to make a point. But he won’t stop us from running away to harden them ourselves. And our Judgment Day lament of “God why did this happen?” will not go over well.
What have you done to at least soften your heart a little? How much time do you have left?
When was the last time you said I love you and meant it, sacrificially willing the Good of the other? When was the last time you went to confession and really humbled yourself before the Lord? When was the last time you shrugged your shoulders on a Holy Day of Obligation and said, “That doesn’t really matter?” When was the last time you tossed out the Church’s 2,000 years of teaching on Abortion or Race or Welcoming the Stranger and said, “I can vote any way I want”?
When I count to three and snap my fingers, you will wake up.