First Sunday of Advent
Is 63:16-17 & 64:1 & 3-8; 1 Cor 1: 3-9; Mk 13: 33-37 (Year B)
“I never stop thanking God for all the graces you have received. Christ has indeed been strong among you so that you will not be without any of the gifts of the Holy Spirit while you are waiting for Our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed, and he will keep you steady and without blame, because by calling you, God has joined you to his Son Jesus Christ; and God is faithful.”
Paul began his letter to the wayward Christian community in Corinth with an affectionate reminder of the many graces that they had already received. As the letter unfolded, he would challenge them with the many ways in which they had fallen short of the bright promise that had been their beginning. We can learn much from Paul at the beginning of Advent.
We too are a people who have received much. Already the Father has joined us to his Son Jesus Christ in baptism and the Eucharist. Like the Corinthians, we have not always lived up to the promise of our beginning. Our past gives us the confidence to believe that we already live in the presence of God. Advent calls for the repentance that opens our lives to the Christ who continues to come with healing and forgiveness.
The prophet Isaiah challenged a lukewarm people whose sense of God’s presence had all but disappeared. “We have all withered like leaves and our sins blew us away like the wind. No one invoked your name or roused himself to catch hold of you.”
Advent is, above all, a season of hope. It speaks directly to everything within us that longs for God, but feels that his presence, like the autumn leaves, has been blown away in the storms of distraction and selfishness. Advent assures us that “the favours of the Lord are not all past, his kindnesses are not exhausted: every morning they are renewed; great is his faithfulness.”
Like St Paul, let us begin with the assurance that Christ, for whom we long, has already come to us. He will come again to greet us in every act of repentance, every turning to his continuing presence, every acknowledgment of a neighbour in need.
Jesus counselled his disciples to be on their guard and stay awake, because they knew not the time of his Second Coming. Indeed, we cannot know the time of his Second Coming, but we can use this present moment to turn to him in repentance, to live again in the joy of his presence. This is both the promise and joy of Advent.
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