First Sunday of Advent
Book of the Prophet of Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b, 64:2-7; Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 19, 64:2-7;
First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37
Happy New Year! Today is the first Sunday of Advent and the beginning of the new Church year. The word “advent” comes from the Latin word “adventum,” which means “coming.” Well, who is coming? Many of us would answer that it is the coming of the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day. Of course, you would be correct. But, our Lord Jesus was born over two thousand years ago. So advent is not only the coming of Jesus on Christmas Day but also a reminder of His coming on the “last day,” which is a date that is unknown to us.
In the Gospel narrative of Saint Mark, the reality of waiting is emphasized by Jesus Himself as to when He may come to us again. He tells us to, “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” As our Lord spoke to His disciples, I can imagine that He emphasized His point by pointing His finger as He spoke. I say this because, if you re-read the Gospel, the words, Be watchful and Be alert end with exclamation points.
Friends, Jesus is telling us from His own mouth to be always prepared and stay awake while waiting for His coming at an unknown and unexpected time. The words we heard are encouraging yet cautionary in tone. If you noticed, the anxiety and pain in our first reading from the Prophet Isaiah (Is. 63) are not referenced in the Gospel.
Personally, I have no difficulties in watching and being alert. However, waiting is not my strong suit. Waiting is about time. Waiting is focused on the future; it is not a backward look into the past. Waiting is about looking forward to a new and different time. Something is indeed coming; regardless if it is good or bad, it’s coming.
The Church teaches that Advent is a time of waiting, anticipation, expectation, joy, and preparation for the coming of Jesus, the promised Messiah. Being ready for God is too important to postpone. I would like you to think about what would happen if the Lord of the house comes and you are not ready.
What then should we make of the advice Jesus is presenting to us? Do we really believe that He is going to come again and walk on the earth? How exactly do we manage to be watchful and alert? We stay awake and alert “if” we pray regularly; “if” we educate ourselves and our children in the faith; “if” we participate in the sacraments, especially Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist; “if” we perform the corporal and spiritual works of mercy; and “if” we become people of love.
Our Lord Jesus is not trying to put a scare into us. He is simply preparing us for the inevitable. CAN I GET AN AMEN?
Question of the Day: Do you believe that Jesus will come in glory to judge the living and the dead?
Prayer: Come Lord Jesus, send us your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth. Amen.