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Alive, Alert, Awake, Enthusiastic

Taken from Sambuhay (December 1, 2013 | 1st Sunday of Advent)
Written by: Fr. Victor S. Nicdao

As a seminarian, I would facilitate recollections for high school students and one icebreaker I remember so well is the song "I'm alive, alert, awake, enthusiastic." Students would be divided into four groups, each group assigned a word from the song. The students would then stand up whenever their word came up as we sang. After the son, the students were all alive, alert, awake, and enthusiastic, not to mention panting and perspiring from the kick they got out of the song. 

The song captures one of the important themes of this Sunday's Gospel reading. In four examples, it highlights the need for steadfast vigilance. The first example is that of Noah. People during his time were so engrossed in the ordinary daily activities and concerns ("eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage"). There is nothing wrong with these normal everyday activities and the attitude of "business as usual" in themselves. It was the people's lack of vigilance and their unpreparedness that eventually caught them by surprise and led to their ruin. The second and third examples are similar. Of two men in the field and of two women grinding the mill, "one will be taken, and one will be left." Exteriorly, both will be doing the same thing. What distinguishes the two characters from each other must be internal. Again, the difference presumably is that one is ready and alert, while the other is not. This is explicitly asserted in the text: "Therefore, stay awake!" The fourth and last example again underscores the need for watchful vigilance, especially for an eventuality that is unknown, like the coming of the thief in the night. 

A lot of people are hurrying. Teenagers hurry to be adults; students are anxious to graduate and want to work. With hurrying comes worrying. One writer perceptibly remarked that he can write the biography of many people with three words: Hurry, Worry, Bury. The Gospel today is a reminder that not everything can be rushed. The Lord cannot simply be fitted to our timetable and at our convenience. We do not know when He will come. He comes, as the song we like to sing in church says, "in His time." 

Our world today is also distracted by so many things like a crying baby is by shaking of a rattle. The only difference is that instead of a rattle, we have today many modern gadgets and toys, many games and so-called amusements, that we can easily be distracted. 

There was Plants vs Zombies, then Temple Run and followed by Bejeweled and other computer games. Now Candy Crush is the hottest craze. Will it be the case of two men watching their favorite telenovela, one will be taken and the other will be left? Or will it be the case of two teenagers so busy twitting, one will be taken and the other will be left? While there may not be anything wrong with these in themselves, they can be all too consuming and lull us into sluggish inertness so that we fail to welcome the Lord who knocks at our hearts. 

Last month, I received a text message which goes: "A teenager went to a wise man and asked him, 'What is the best time to pray?' The man replied, 'The best time to pray is before you die.' The teenager protested, 'But nobody knows when I will die! It can come anytime or any moment!' To this, the wise man responded, 'You are right. Death can come anytime and any moment to anyone. So, the best time to pray is always.'"

What can be said of prayer can be said of vigilance. The Lord can come knocking at our doors anytime and any moment. Therefore, we must remain steadfast and constant in our vigilance for the Lord's coming. The message of the Gospel straightforwardly hollers: "Stay awake!" Remain steadfastly vigilant! Be alive, alert, awake, and enthusiastic.


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