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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Comiskey

Virgin. Again.

‘If the essence of Advent is expectancy, it is also a readiness for action: watchfulness for every opening, and willingness to risk everything for freedom and a new beginning’ (editors, Watch for the Light).

Sara laughing. Zechariah booming. Saul becoming Paul, Peter a Rock.

Advent is about change: a jumpstart on the New Year to resolve to do ’24 better. Broken by ’23? Consider yourself rich soil for Jesus, with Father using pressure to plow that seed deep. This Sunday—the first day of Advent—marks the start of the Church year and your chance to be virgin again. Christ has come, is coming, will come. Yes, we welcome the Babe at Christmas and yes, He will return larger-than-life, eyes blazing like fire to raze our disorder and raise up an undivided house for God.

In the meantime, Jesus rouses us in Spirit: ‘Be watchful! Be alert! May I not come and find you sleeping’ (Mk. 13:33, 36-37). The miracle of Christ-with-us requires many mundane ‘yeses,’ like a bride primping for her groom, or a soldier awaiting orders on a battlefield. It applies to us corporately as members of one Body and personally. Our prayer? ‘Expose and rout our dullness, O God! Make us virgin again.’

The other day, burdened by many things, I wanted to check out, to deflect the light with fantasy lovers. Ugh. Not a life sign. First the thought, then arousal, then…nothing new under the sun. I don’t scandalize myself; I can act wisely before I do. I’ve good friends who know my syncopated rhythm; in truth, they know how to pray when I ask for help. Holy Spirit prompted me to act and the Spirit in them set order in me. I woke up. I checked-in, not out, and was rescued. I cycled through the day uninterrupted by uncleanness, guided by sweet chastity. Virgin. Again.

This new year, starting today, may the Spirit soften our clay—make us malleable, reshape-able, wet putty in God’s hands once more. ‘Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down…You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember Your ways. But when we violated Your ways, You were angry. How then can we be saved?...Yet, O Lord, You are our Father. We are the clay, You are the potter; we are the work of Your hands’ (Is. 64:1, 5, 8).

What glorious news Advent brings! In Jesus, Father rends the heaven and comes down to rescue us once more. God avails Himself; are we watching and waiting for that divine descent? Stay alert—sober—aware of our dodgy selves but more inclined to our sensitivity to His stirrings.

We who live for His coming don’t mind correction. We welcome it. We freely admit our poverty, our potential for foolish actions, as if we—children of the Light—lived in darkness. We get wise to ourselves. Echoing Jesus’ warning to stay awake, St. Paul cries: Watch out! You think you are above falling? You are on the brink! (1 Cor. 10:12).

Advent invites us to wise up and reposition ourselves in the light of our soon-coming King. Virgin. Again.

‘What we need most is to be genuinely shaken, so that where life is grounded, we would feel its stability, and where life is unstable and uncertain, immoral and unprincipled, we would know this also and endure it…The one great Advent question for us is whether we can make it out of the shakings with the resolve: Yes, arise! It is time to awaken from sleep. It is time for an awakening to begin somewhere; it is time that someone places things again in the order that they were given by God the Lord’ (Fr. Alfred Delp, Advent Homily, Munich, Nov. 30th, 1941).

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