1st Sunday of Advent 2017 – Year B

Waiting for God – 3 December 2017

Isaiah 63:16-17, 19, & 62:4-7
1 Cor. 1:3-9
Mark 13:33-37

One night Jesus appeared to a devout widow and told her that the next day he would come and visit her. Immediately the widow started to clean and polish the whole house. She had just finished when the doorbell rang and she ran and opened the door expectantly. But it was her daughter who lived nearby who asked her to look after her 3 year old son while she went shopping but the widow refused telling her she was too busy as she was expecting an important visitor. An hour later, the bell went again. She ran to the door and was annoyed to find a beggar there and said she couldn’t give him anything then as she was expecting an important visitor. In the afternoon the local priest came to ask her help but again she told him to come back tomorrow due to the important visitor expected. Bedtime came and she was very disappointed, as Jesus hadn’t come to her as promised. That night Jesus appeared to her again. “ Three times today I tried to visit you but you never had time for me. When the favorable time came you let it pass”

Today is the First Sunday of Advent. Advent is a word meaning “coming” or “arrival”

It is a conscious setting apart of time by the Church to prepare for the coming of Jesus at Christmas to celebrate his birth. The quality of our vigilance and preparations will determine the quality of our meeting with Jesus our Lord. For Mary and Joseph, at the first Christmas, there was no room for them at the Inn. Will we have a place free for Jesus when he comes to us? Obviously there will be Exterior and Interior preparations.

Exterior – The Advent wreath, decorations in the church, the change in the color of vestments at Mass. Depending on our ability we may give gifts or get new clothes.

Interior preparations for us Christians are far more important. We may try and give a bit more time to pray or attend the Dawn Masses etc [as they do in the Philippines]. But if we are able to give gifts, what will they be? For Jesus? Pray more rosaries, devotions etc.?   Maybe the best gift we can give is the gift of LISTENING. Listening to what God wants of us now in our lives. Extra prayers are very good but is Jesus more interested in getting us to look at an area of our lives which need conversion e.g. a refusal to forgive, a wrong relationship, more attention to the needs of others etc.

In fact, there are a number of comings of Jesus into our world and lives. The First coming was 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem; the Final coming will be at his coming for the Final Judgement. How will I be ready when death comes, when Jesus calls me to Himself?

Today’s gospel tells us. “Be constantly on the watch! Stay awake! You do not know when the appointed time will come.” It is important that we don’t make the same mistake as the widow in the story at the beginning.  Jesus, in fact, is coming to us often each day. We Christians are asked by the gospel to be attentive to what the Lord wants to reveal to us in the events of each day. So if I am a mother or a father of a family, am I trying to be a good wife and mother, a good husband and father, a good and honest worker? A courteous driver in my car etc? Again, the gospel says ‘The Lord is like the man travelling abroad: he leaves home and gives each his own task to do’. This is the best way to prepare for Jesus at Christmas and when he comes at the end of time. If I am trying my best to be a good mother, father, son, daughter, religious, priest etc, whatever my position in life is, and then I don’t have to worry when the Lord comes. It is in the daily events of life and in the people I meet daily that the Lord comes as in the story of the widow. If I am faithful to my daily prayers and my daily responsibilities, that is it.

One very good way to prepare for the coming of Jesus at Christmas is to ask Mary our Mother to help us to do so. She had to prepare for his coming and she will gladly intercede for us to do the same. Finally, maybe a very good prayer to pray often as we go through the day is that of the last chapter of the bible in the Book of Revelation: ‘Maranatha, come, Lord Jesus!’

“Lord Jesus, give us your powerful Holy Spirit to help us know how best to prepare for your coming to us this Christmas, especially in the daily events of life, in the very many ways you come to us each day. Amen”.    

Fr Jim Kirstein, SMA

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