From the Pastor – November 27, 2011

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” (Mt. 13:33)

One almost hopes that Jesus would announce His Second Coming simultaneously through a text message, Twitter, Facebook, a Google News Alert, PSA’s on all of the broadcast and cable television stations and talk radio. Because if that were the case, He’d be bound to reach 90% of the world population who are immersed in technology through tv, radio, the internet and cell phones.

But I don’t think that’s the “watching” that Jesus is calling us to engage in. In fact, I don’t really think he’s talking about our using our “eyes” at all. Jesus says “watch!” as the last word in this Sunday’s Gospel. And that word comes from the Greek word γρηγορεῖτε (gregoreite) really has less to do with “looking” and “seeing” and more to do with “being alert” and “staying awake.” “Staying awake” means being prepared to greet Our Lord when He comes.

So how do we “stay awake”? This week you might have heard about a news article in which former Speaker Nancy Pelosi strongly criticized the Catholic Church for fighting for “conscience clauses” in healthcare legislation. Basically, what the bishops have been arguing is that Catholic healthcare providers shouldn’t have to engage in medical practices (abortions, sterilizations, prescribing contraception) that are contrary to natural law and the Catholic faith. But Pelosi disagrees. She said to the Washington Post: “I’m a devout Catholic and I honor my faith and love it ”¦ but they have this conscience thing” (with which she disagrees).

“This conscience thing.” Actually, I think Pelosi’s onto something here. We Catholics do have “this conscience thing.” And that’s exactly what Jesus is asking us to “keep awake.” When we ignore our conscience, whether for financial gain, political expediency, momentary pleasure, or the lust for power, then we are falling into the trappings of the world, and the trappings of the world are the snares of the devil.

“Staying awake” means being conscious of the state of our immortal soul. It means keeping ourselves in a state of grace. It means confessing mortal sins, repenting for our preoccupation with the darkness of world, and reaching for the light of Heaven.
“Staying awake” means keeping that “conscience thing” alive so that we can strive for everlasting life. We begin Advent this weekend. It’s a time to remember Christ’s first coming and to prepare for His Second. And we do so by remembering to keep that “conscience thing” intact.

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty