First Sunday of Advent


Is 2:1-5
Rom 13:11-14
Mt 24:37-44


“Like a thief in the night.” This was a passage from today’s Gospel that echoed through my childhood. It was a line my father loved to cite when he spoke about our faith. I decided to ask him why it resonated with him. “You gotta be ready, you know,” he recently told me. “Maybe it resonated because our house was broken into a couple of times when you were little,” he continued, “when someone breaks into your house, they take things that hold personal attachment for you. When your time comes, you have to be ready to let go.” 

One way to view this Gospel as the Advent season and the new liturgical calendar begins is that we have to stay vigilant and be good, like the child’s song we hear this time of year: “you better not shout; you better not cry, you better not pout… Jesus is coming to town!” I do not read this Gospel in that way at all. Instead, I take my father’s meaning to be deeper: Live well, be an agent of God’s grace, and transcend the ego. “Things happen unexpectedly in our lives,” my father concluded. Events can turn unexpectedly in our lives, in our country, in our hearts. Do we hold on to the truth of love as a rudder amidst tumult? 

For me, to “stay awake!” as this Gospel calls, is to live a life of empathy, compassion, justice, mercy, forgiveness, and love. It is to live a life where the sacramental imagination lives - where cultivate a worldview of wonder that can perceive the grace and goodness always-already in the world, which was created in love. It also means to maintain a prophetic imagination, where injustices and marginalization are called out and struggled against. Living this way, I am already yearning and acting in the direction of Jesus’ grace.

-Esteban del Río, Ph.D., Associate Provost, Inclusion & Diversity