First Sunday of Advent
December 3, 2017 Cycle B
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E.

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In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Today we begin the holy season of Advent. During this time, the liturgy invites us to be watchful. Jesus is coming. We need to be alert in order to welcome him. The great promise of Christ requires our watchfulness. Now is the time to be vigilant. Now is the time to lift up our eyes toward the horizon and await the return of the desired of the nations. Now is the time to wait and to watch.

Cardinal Newman wrote:This is the very definition of a Christian, one who looks for Christ; not who looks for gain, or distinction, or power, or pleasure, or comfort, but who looks ‘for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.’”  In today’s Gospel, Jesus says: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come” (Mk 13:33). We do not know when the final coming of Christ or our personal ultimate encounter with Jesus will happen.

We live in an age that does not consider the ultimate things to be important. Immediate things assume a much greater urgency. The Christian faith invites us to live our daily lives in the expectation of Jesus’ coming, which will accomplish everything. To be vigilant does not mean to be alienated from reality. Christianity is not like the strange sects that are detached from reality and waiting for the end of the world.

Jesus tells a parable to stress the necessity of being watchful. With this simple parable, he explains the meaning of all human history. The lord of the house is away traveling. Jesus has already come but after the Resurrection he left us. He will come back at the end of the times. The time of the Church is the time of the anticipation of the final coming. The gatekeeper must be on the watch. The lord of the house will arrive suddenly. Jesus will return in a definitive way, concluding history.

In the second reading, Saint Paul says that we are a community expecting Jesus’ coming: “[…] so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:7).

The Church is not only expecting Jesus’ coming but supplicates it. In the first reading, we read: “Return for the sake of your servants […] Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down” (Is 63: 17,19). Today’s Psalm says: “O shepherd of Israel, hearken, from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth. Rouse your power, and come to save us” (Ps 80:2).

The world needs salvation. We need to be saved. Without Christ, life cannot satisfy our deep desire for happiness. Without Jesus, everything is vain and incomplete.

If we live our lives waiting for him and praying for his coming, we shall be transformed. The first reading uses a beautiful image of a potter and his clay: “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).

Besides the first coming and the final coming, a spiritual coming is happening now, in the hearts of those who are waiting for the Lord and praying for his revelation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev 3:20).

In a certain sense, we can anticipate the end of times, when God is going to be everything in everyone. Thus, life in fullness can already be tasted here and now.

Let us pray that the season of Advent will be a time to increase our watchfulness, a time to look for Christ and a time to experience the promise of life that our Christian life contains.  Amen.

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