First Sunday of Advent
A Homily - Cycle B - 2011-2012
by Fr. Luke Dundon
First Reading - Isaiah 63:16b-17; 64:2-7
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
Second Reading - 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Gospel - Mark 13:33-37
Mark wrote to explain Christ
to the new Gentile converts.
Jesus said to his disciples: "Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. 'What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'"
Happy New Year everyone! It’s Advent, and the first day of our new Missal! Advent, like the new Missal, is both a beautiful thing, and something that is greatly misunderstood. Kind of like when I once visited London, and totally misunderstood the unique traffic laws. My fellow seminarians and I were venturing from one store to the next, busily purchasing last-minute Christmas gifts for family and friends…we were about to cross the street to the department store, and so I looked to the left, saw no one, put my foot out…and felt my friends yank me back, as a double-decker bus barreled past me…form the right…rrrriiiight, they drive on the opposite side…didn’t need coffee that afternoon! I watch very carefully now when I cross the street…
That’s exactly what the Lord is instructing us to do when we change from the green to the purple, He is telling us to watch! Watch out for what? An advent wreath? A shopping sale at the Mall? A bus passing by? No, not something, but rather someone. Someone is coming, the Master, the Lord of the House, God Himself is coming! Well of course He is, Father, that’s what Advent is about, getting ready for Christmas, Jesus’ Birthday! Buy the tree, hang the decorations, avoid getting hit by public transportation…those are important traditions, yes, but Advent is actually much more than this. There is such a thing as “Christmas Spirit” – but there’s also such a thing as “Advent spirit!” It’s a remembrance of what happened in the past, but it’s also a reminder of what hasn’t…yet…occurred! The Lord has come once, and related to that, He will come again! The reading from Mark’s Gospel today is at the end of His Gospel…Jesus is talking about the end of things, His second return!!! He is warning us – Be ready, and Watch! Great! So…when is He coming? I know what’s happening on December 25th, but when is He coming again?
Uh, we don’t know…well, how rude, no date is given! It’d be like me coming up to someone here, saying, I look forward to visiting your house for dinner! Oh, very nice, Father, when? Can’t say, just be on the lookout…how can we possibly plan for this? What’s going on with the Lord’s announcement? A lot, actually – He doesn’t specify a time on purpose…
We remember that God came to us…as a man…but, since He is also a man now, He knows our human nature, which is prone to many things, including the ever-blessed tendency to procrastinate. You know the exams are in 14 days. So, when does study begin? In 13 days. December 24th, Fair Oaks Shopping Mall, 6pm, shopping with Dad…been there, done that! If our pastor were to go on vacation without a return date, I might fall into the Italian thought, “eh, c’e sempre domain!” “Well, there’s always tomorrow!” However, procrastinating is not an option in preparing for what (or rather who) is coming our way. We heard about a Potter and His clay in the first reading – if that clay is left to sit ‘til the last minute, it’s going to harden. It can’t be molded! Consequently, our preparation should not simply be a night-before scramble…This preparation should rather be the way we are always living our life…for example, my friends noticed my error on the side of the street, because they always care about me, so they were always looking out for me! That’s what is means to love someone, to be in love with God…we are looking out for Him, we are watching and waiting for Him, in everything we do! By watching for Him, we open our Hearts to the Master who can mold our hearts like the potter who molds his clay…
And so our Lord lovingly reminds us, while there are many enjoyable songs, sights, and smells during the coming weeks, we need to keep our sights focused on something, someone much greater! To do that, we need time for silence, turning back to the Lord for we are clay, as Isaiah tells us, and so we need help molding ourselves. God is still our Father, He knows best how to prepare and mold us, and so He gives us new words at Mass! The New Translation helps remind us in a special way this year of how unique Advent really is, how much we ourselves are to be molded and strengthened during this time of preparation…truly, Advent reminds us to remain quiet and listen to His Sacred Words given to us through the Church, and it prepares our hearts for His coming back to us. Advent is not simply remembering Christmas, it’s a remembrance that Jesus is coming back, in all His glory! What He said to them, He says to us! The message means so much to us, it shapes our life, both who we are and where we are headed. But – we will only hear the message, and see the messenger, if we quiet ourselves, and watch!
May we show our love for Him by finding time for silence. May we not be too consumed by the distractions of this season, this season which is not yet Christmas, nor does it (in a sense) end with Christmas. If we start now by praying a bit more, in silence and quiet, then we’ll be able to listen, then we’ll be ready for His coming, we’ll frankly be ready…for the second Sunday of Advent, as the molding and preparation continues, as our hears draw closer to the God who is coming! There…you hear that? That’s the sound of preparing for the Christ who is coming in the true spirit of Advent! Watch, and listen – because you love Him and He is coming!