23 November 2011

'Stay awake!' Sunday Reflections, 1st Sunday in Advent Year B

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel Mark 13:33-37 (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Jesus said to his disciples: 'Be on your guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come. It is like a man travelling abroad: he has gone from home, and left his servants in charge, each with his own task; and he has told the doorkeeper to stay awake. So stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming, evening, midnight, cockcrow, dawn; if he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake!'

An Soiscéal Marcas 13:33-37 (Gaeilge, Irish)

San am sin dúirt Íosa lena dheisceabail :Bígí aireach, déanaigí faire, mar níl a fhios agaibh cén uair a bheidh an t-am ann. Is é dála duine é a d’fhág a theach agus a d’imigh ar an gcoigríoch; thug sé an t-údarás dá sclábhaithe, gach duine díobh i mbun a chúraim féin; agus d’ordaigh sé don doirseoir faire a dhéanamh. Déanaigí faire, dá bhrí sin, mar ní fios daoibh cén uair a thiocfaidh tiarna an tí, um thráthnóna, i lár na hoíche, ar ghlao an choiligh, nó ar maidin. Má thagann sé gan choinne, ná faigheadh sé sibh in bhur gcodladh. An rud a deirim libhse, deirim le gach duine é: Déanaigí faire.”

My father, John, 'upped and died', as we say in Ireland, on 11 August 1987 at the age of 74. He had a heart attack while watching cricket on television in the late afternoon, something the Columban Superior General at the time, Fr Bernard Cleary, an Australian, found amusing.He just had time to call my brother, who was about to go out, get to his bed and lie down before he became unconscious.

In our part of Dublin there was one priest on call every day for emergencies in a group of parishes. My father had placed the emerency number, in large digits, and placed t on top of the phone. My brother phoned immediately. It happened that the priest on call was from our parish and was less than five minutes' walk away. The particular priest, though young, wasn't noted for his speed but he was over in no time at all to anoint Dad before the ambulance arrived. However, Dad was dead on arrival at the hospital. He died 17 years after my mother, Mary, who passed away in her sleep.

When I got the news of his death in the middle of the night in Cebu I was shocked. But not for a moment did I feel any regret over things not done. There was no 'unfinished business'. I was consoled when I learned that the priest had been with him but even more consoled knowing that he had been at Mass that morning, as he had been every day of his adult life.

He had no idea when the Lord would come for him. When he found my mother dead in bed he said to my brother, 'Your mother has gone now and we have to adjust to this. His strong faith enabled him to do that. That same faith prepared him for his own sudden death and prepared us, his two sons, to adjust to that new reality with grief, yes, but with no regrets, no 'unfinished business'.

'If he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake!'

On my ordination day, 20 December 1967, with my parents and brother
Communion antiphon

Dóminus dabit benignitátem, et terra nostra dabit fructum suum (Ps 84:13).

The Lord will bestow his bounty, and our earth shall yield its increase.


DreamWeaver said...

Great Advent to readers

Anonymous said...

Very moving post and I will pray for the repose of their souls.

That is a great pic, btw!