Isaiah 63: 16-17, 19; 64: 2-7 1 Corinthians 1: 3-9 Mark 13: 33-37
A Protestant Minister and a Catholic Priest enjoyed teasing their Rabbi friend, continually asking him when he was going to convert to their faith. When the Christmas season rolled around, the Rabbi sent them a card with the following note: “Season’s Greetings! Roses are reddish, Violets are bluish; When the Messiah comes, you’ll wish you were Jewish!!”
Dear friends! I welcome you to the first Sunday of Advent and the new 3rd edition of Roman Missal. The common theme of today’s readings is that vigilant service prepares us for the coming of Christ as our savior during Christmas and as our judge and Lord at the end of the world. The reason why the liturgical year ends and begins with the same theme is clear: if we have already embraced Jesus in his first coming, we will have no fear of his second coming. Advent is the season of special preparation and expectation for the coming of Christ. It encourages us to examine our lives, to reflect on our need for God to enter our lives and to prepare earnestly for, and eagerly await the coming of Christ.
The Gospel of today has a short parable. It is about a householder who had a number of servants. On one occasion he had to go abroad, which meant he would be away a long time. Before leaving he called the servants together and gave each of them a job to do. He urged them to be responsible and not to fall asleep. We are all God’s servants. God has placed in each one of us an enormous trust for our own lives and for those under our care. How are we fulfilling this trust required of us? Have we focused our minds and our hearts on His Messiahship? Are we prepared to accept the many challenges He sends us?
Christmas for many of us has become a display of our purchases and of the bargains we secured at sales. Christmas is actually the bringing of Christ into our lives. Advent is the preparation time for getting on with the job of making our meeting with Christ a success.
Advent is also a time for spring cleaning, a time to look into our inner selves and see how worthy we are of Christ’s coming. 2000 years ago, Mary and Joseph cleared the stable for the birth of Christ. Today and during Advent we should go into action clearing the stables of our hearts, which may perhaps have become sin-filled because of our involvement with sinful persons, places and things.
Using apocalyptic images, the gospel urges the elect to be alert for the return of Christ because no one except the Father knows the day or the hour of the Lord’s return. Jesus summarizes the complexities of Christian living in two imperatives: “Take heed!” (Be on guard) and “Watch!” (Be alert, stay awake, and don’t grow careless). Our life on earth is to be one of productive service uninfluenced by a supervisor’s presence or seeming absence.
The message of today’s scripture is that we should live in the living presence of Jesus every day waiting for his Second Coming. We have to experience Christ’s living presence in the holy Eucharist, in the holy Bible, in our worshiping community in our parish, in our family, in our own souls and in every one around us.
An Advent project of being alert and watchful in the spirit of today’s gospel: Every morning when we get up, let us pray, “Lord, show me someone today with whom I may share your love, mercy and forgiveness.” Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, “Whatever you do in your family, for your children, for your husband, for your wife, you do for Jesus.” Every night when we go to bed, let us ask ourselves, “Where have I found Christ today?” The answer will be God’s Advent gift to us that day. By being alert and watchful we will receive an extra gift: Christ himself.