Every Wednesday, I get a day away from the parish and most days I go home and play with my niece and nephew and spend time with my family. At the end of the day, after dinner, one of the last things we usually do as a family is watch Jeopardy. I always look forward to it. It is often a humbling time, because when I watch it I often only get a handful of questions right. It always reminds me of the great depths of what there is to know and can be known in life. It is truly astonishing.
I mention Jeopardy because you may or may not know it but the last showing of Jeopardy with Alex Trebek as host is on December 25, 2020—Christmas Day. Because he pre- recorded so many episodes before his death on November 8, we have been able to enjoy the game show these past few weeks.
I thought of Alex Trebek many times over this Advent season because his life has aided my entering into this holy season all the more. From the beginning of the Advent Season, we heard Jesus call us to “Be alert. Be watchful. You do not know when the time will come.” Jesus desires us to live in such a way that we are always ready, no matter when He comes. In a true way, Alex has showed us what this looks like. Since March of 2019, when he found out the discouraging diagnosis of his Stage-4 Pancreatic Cancer, he could have quit everything. He could have told Jeopardy that his time was near the end and he would stop working and spend the rest of his days on a beach in Maui! But he didn’t! Rather, he kept doing what he loved to do. He kept working in faith with great hope. In one interview, he stated that he’d like to be “remembered first of all as a good and loving husband and father...and for helping people perform at their best because that was my job. That is what a host is supposed to do.”
On this last Sunday of Advent, we pray “For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord” (Psalm 89). As we near the end of Advent and approach the greatest day on earth— Christmas!—when God became one of us to lead us, renew us, to bring glad tidings of comfort and joy, let us do what we are supposed to do. Like Alex Trebek, in the midst of discouragement or despair, don’t stop doing what you are supposed to do. Don’t stop Advent. Keep preparing! Keep praying! A lot can happen in a few days. It did in Nazareth and it will in your life! So celebrate Christmas on Christmas day! And watch Jeopardy too!
Happy Advent and Merry Christmas!
Fr. Jeremy Merzweiler