Homily on the First Sunday of Advent
I say to all: ‘Watch’ (Mk 13:37)
On this First Sunday of Advent, the Church selected a short passage near the end of the Gospel according to Mark for our meditation. In such a brief proclamation, the word “watch” is repeated several times. Jesus compared our “watch” to the work of the gatekeeper expecting the return of his master. But what is the proper attitude of the gatekeeper calling to be vigilant and thus serves as a model for us the disciples of Christ keeping the “watch” during this Holy Season. Is it one of fear at what the Master might find when He returns? Or is it one of great expectation in which the gatekeeper is focused on a grand and welcome reunion with the Master? Certainly, the true Christian attitude during this Advent is the latter.
The Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and Calendar no. 39 reminds us about this Holy Season: “Advent has a twofold character, for it is a time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas, in which the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity is remembered, and likewise a time when, by remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time. For these two reasons, Advent is a period of devout and expectant delight.”
My dear friends, during Advent, we are called to be filled with expectant joy as we “wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Cor 1:7). We encounter the Lord in this First Coming in the celebration of Christmas, the beginning of our redemption, so as to direct our minds and hearts to the fullness of what it means to be redeemed by Christ in His Second Coming. The Collect for the Mass captured best our attitude during this Holy Season: “Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly Kingdom.” We “watch” joyfully in order to run forth and meet our Lord!
The best way to keep Advent is to experience the closeness of our God as Isaiah described in the first reading today: “Yet, O Lord, you are our father, we are the clay and you the potter. We are all the work of your hands” (Is 64:7). What a beautiful image reminding us where we are in our relationship with God: Clay by itself does not have much meaning and usefulness, but when it is in the hand of the potter, the artist will form and shape it so that from clay there came many useful things in our lives. When we place ourselves in the hands of God, our lives have meaning, hopefulness, and joy.
May we be open to be formed and shaped by God’s Word as our way of living what the Lord commanded in the Gospel today: “Watch.”
Scriptural Readings: Reading 1 IS 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7; Responsorial Psalm PS 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19; Reading 2 1Cor 1:3-9; Alleluia PS 85:8; Gospel MK 13:33-37.