November 29: First Sunday of Advent. Readings: 1. Isaiah 63:16-17, 64:1,3-8; Psalm: XX; 2. 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Gospel: Mark 13:33-37.
As we begin Advent this Sunday, we are led to contemplate the big picture of our lives. This liturgical season therefore aims to prime us for yet another Christmas. And, in so doing, we keep in mind what has been and what will be, that is according to God’s plan.
With his words, Isaiah is encouraging Israel to be hopeful, despite all its sorry past. This forward-looking standpoint is an attempt to have Israel leave behind any infidelity and distress and to anticipate what God has set as the ultimate outcome for us all. In order to be rightly oriented to this prospect, the prophet reminds everyone that God is a loving father. Everything lived and experienced should, therefore, be viewed in light of the Father’s will.
That thought is equally to the fore in Paul’s address to the Corinthians. By calling to mind the ongoing saving work of God the Father, in union with Christ the Lord, Christians know themselves to be graced and strengthened in order to face every eventuality, but especially the Lord’s coming when history will draw to a close. Celebrating Christ’s coming in the flesh is a superb and fitting way of readying ourselves for the all-important second coming.
Mark’s Gospel text also looks to the future. It emphatically exhorts us to be fully awake to whatever God calls us to be and do in this world. So, with an eye to the future, whether that is sooner or later, it is our vocation to live as Christian disciples, ever ready to give lasting witness to the faith we share with one another.
In these Advent readings we hear a mighty but straightforward message. Simply put, we are being urged to earnestly profess and proclaim that faith we hold dear.