Today is the first Sunday of Advent and our first reading from the Book of the prophet Isaiah is a conversation between the People of Israel and God. This week we hear only the voice of the People of Israel. In some ways you could say the voice of God is not heard and yet we do know something of the mind of God because of what the People say! The conversation begins with the People addressing God as ‘Father’, and ‘Redeemer from of old’. The People wonder why God has ‘made them to stray’ from the ways of God, why has he hardened their hearts, why are they are wandering without fear. The People beg God to tear open the heavens and join them on earth so that the mountains quake as they once did when he walked among them. The People speak of God’s anger and their own sinfulness, their weakness when it comes to following God. The People recognize that they are like ‘clay in the hands of the Potter’ who is God, that they are the work of God! God is the author of their life. The People recognize their need for God in their daily life.
In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus tells the story of a man who has gone on a journey. His servants have been entrusted with various tasks and they are invited to stay awake because they do not know at what time the Master will return. The Doorkeeper must be especially vigilant! We are like the doorkeeper – we are keeping watch for the return of the Master!
In St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Paul begins his letter by acknowledging that God is at work in the Christians at Corinth. God has entrusted them with grace from Jesus Christ. Paul acknowledges that these Christians lack nothing. Christ is faithful and he will provide for them, strengthening them so that they have all they need to live as disciples of Jesus.
Each year as we begin the season of Advent we begin a new liturgical year – we hear once again how God has chosen a people for his very own, how he prepared the earth for the coming of his Son, Jesus. We listen as the sacred authors tell the story of Jesus, his birth, his life, death, resurrection and ascension, the impact of his saving deeds, and his interactions with his people. We are invited to consider our response to his life. We hear once again about the invitation the Spirit gives to us to proclaim to all the promise of God’s unconditional love.
Today, as we begin this season of Advent, we remember that we are preparing ourselves to celebrate the historical birth of Jesus and his final coming. We remember our need for God’s presence among us and we remember God’s promise to his People from of old. We remember the faithfulness of God and that in the Spirit we are full of grace.
As I prayed with the texts, I asked myself the question, what impact does Jesus coming to earth have on me.
In the text from Isaiah the people of Israel acknowledge their sinfulness, their need for God. What if this week we took some time to examine our lives – our sinfulness, our shortcomings? What if we spent some time acknowledging to God and to one another our sinfulness?
The Gospel reminds us that Jesus has come into the world and now we are to wait for his return. Our waiting is characterized by us paying attention – not letting our minds wander – focusing on the return of Jesus – making sure we are prepared for his return. This is one of our tasks.
What if this week, we spent some time thinking about the impact of Jesus‘ presence in our world? Jesus came to earth; what does that mean to us? How does his presence change our lives?
Our daily life should reflect the fact that we are waiting for Jesus. If people watch us, would they know that we are waiting for Jesus? If people watch us would they know that we are paying attention to God or would they be confused about how we spend our time, the things we say and the things we do? What does someone who is waiting for Jesus look like and what do they do?
St. Paul reminds us that we have everything we need to be faithful and to be prepared for his return. Christ has given us graces – all the graces that we need. What if this week we took some to identify the graces we have received? What would they be? Is the grace I receive easily shared with others or do I use the graces God has given me for my good only?
So often I find people say things to me and I listen but I don’t hear because my mind is moving from one idea to another. How do I learn to pay attention, first of all to my own heart, to my family and friends and then to God? Perhaps this week we could practice being present to the people who are in our life and to those whom we encounter in our daily life.
As we continue our prayer let us consider what we can do to show God that we are sons and daughters, fully awake, waiting for his return.
Fr. Doug Jeffrey, OMI