Awake Us from Our Slumber, O Lord!
The bell towers of the church trembled so hard that they started clanging in the middle of the night as we woke to a 7.5 earthquake. Waking from our slumber and running down the long hallway to the front door was a bit scary. As I was trying to open the door, Gabriel yelled out, “God will save us!” Trying to dodge the fragments of adobe, plaster, and rocks falling from the walls and roofs above us was a sight to see.
Though the quake seems to have destroyed many roads, homes, and churches, we must praise God there has been no reports of any deaths. It could have been much worse because the earthquake hit in the early morning with most of us preparing for the day to come.
With today being the first Sunday of Advent, I find the Gospel very fitting for the occasion. We are reminded that as Christians we must not fear the Second Coming of the Lord but instead rejoice and hold our heads high, remaining vigilant and prayerful. We should be in perpetual search of the graces in which He offers us, looking beyond this passing world and remaining faithful to Him.
Today’s Gospel—and perhaps the earthquake—is an invitation for us all to put aside thoughts of Christmas for now and soberly reflect on our final days. Deacon Erik Burckel, LC writes, “Jesus Christ will come again at the end of time to preside over the Last Judgment. We await this second coming, or Advent of our King, with vigilance and confidence in his victory. If we live in love as God’s sons and daughters, we need not fear. We will be able to ‘stand erect and raise our heads because our redemption is at hand.’ This truth is what fills the liturgical season of Advent with joy.” (from ePriest.com)
Jesus Himself tells us about the end times:
There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand. Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.
– Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
How can we be joyful Christians in times of despair, sadness, trials, pandemics, separation, death, or when we are facing the unknown? We must have faith in the promises of our Lord Jesus Christ despite the murmurs of the world around us. We are not alone in this world. We know that this world is not perfect, and that we live in a valley of tears.
In these times we need to remember the gifts of the Holy Sacraments. Oftentimes we forget what they can do for our souls. We mustn’t forget the mercy, graces, and nourishment that the sacraments provide for us during our mission here on earth. They are a fountain of life and a source of joy. They help us to prepare our immortal souls for eternal life with our Creator.
Each Sunday we are blessed to take communion to the faithful. So on the Sunday morning after the earthquake, we made our way to the little community. grateful to be alive and joyful for the opportunity to bring Jesus to those who would go without if it wasn’t for those of you who support the mission here.
Most of the homes here are bamboo huts, along with a few buildings made of adobe bricks. They did not fare too well in the earthquake. We had to do a bit of clean up before we could celebrate the Liturgy, but we are so grateful and blessed to do so.
On our way home from the celebration, we were able to pick up an older man, maybe in his 80s, who was walking in the heat. He was very talkative and emotional about the morning’s events. He asked us if we could take him to a nearby town because he needed to go to Church and that he had not been in 15 years since his wife died.
Of course, we said yes, so along the way we made conversation. He kept saying to us that we need to be careful and to repent. He said the end was near, that Covid was a sign and now the earthquake. I asked him what religion he was out of curiosity, and he said he belonged to the Pentecostal Church.
I did not feel the need to explain who I was; I simply cherished the time we had with him and attempted to calm his fears. I explained that there was really no need to worry—that if we believe in Christ and love Him, He will have mercy on us. Before we dropped him off, we prayed with him, asking the Lord to give us each the strength to hold our heads high and to remain joyful in the good times and the bad.
You can’t make this stuff up! Since following Christ into the mission field, we have had so many divine appointments. Moments designed and planned by Christ himself, opportunities granted to us that allow us to love another, to preach the truth, and to share the immense love He has for everyone.
Last night I prepared for this morning’s celebration completely unaware that the earthquake would happen just hours before it was time to celebrate the liturgy. Often I struggle to relate the Gospel to the lives of those we serve. But today there was no doubt that Jesus was sending His message in a very real way.
We must hold our heads high and with joy proclaiming His goodness at all times. Let us pray:
“Come, Lord Jesus; do not delay. Life without you is no life at all. We prepare our hearts for your coming at Christmas and your coming at the end of time. Accept our prayer today and send your Holy Spirit into our hearts to teach us to say “Maranatha!” (from ePriest.com)
Awaken us from our slumber, O Lord!