First Sunday in Advent
Isaiah 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7 + 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 + Mark 13:33-37
And, it seems today that our readings invite us to be blessed with scriptural teachings that challenge, comfort, correct, prepare, and connect us. At the start of this Advent, I think we can all agree that the world as we know it has shifted toward a harshness that is both frightening and confusing. In our COVID world, relationships and the physical closeness of relationships has become worrisome and, at times, dangerous. Our political scene is a source of bipartisan frustration and anxiety. The growing hunger, rumors of potential violence, economic hardship, strain on our healthcare system, and disruption in the expression of social and religious belonging are realities we want to look away from and yet cannot escape! It is in this world that we will walk, once again, the path to the manger.
Advent calls us to seek, to trust, and to rest in the peace, hope, joy, and love that is Jesus. It is a story that we have sanitized and commercialized, but this year might be different. This year we might access the harshness of Mary and Joseph’s journey, the fear of political unrest in which they lived, the threat of harm, sickness, and death that was a constant worry 2,000 years ago. We might this year be able to let the vulnerability of the Christmas story bring forth our own sense of vulnerability. We might be able to let the faith, trusting not knowing, leads us as Mary and Joseph were led. And, perhaps, just perhaps, we will seek to let the impossible God, who comes to us as a child, be the light of our lives so that we can become light to the world.
Our readings today…
…challenge us to watchful and alert! Can we be watchful for and alert to the people who need encouragement, support, kindness, respect? Can we put ourselves aside and really meet the “other” as a brother or sister in Christ?
…comfort us with the message of God’s presence forever dwelling among us, calling us to be of one heart and mind! Can we be the source of comfort for another? Can we be vulnerable to the suffering in our world so that it unleashes fervent prayer for others, acts of kindness that digs just a bit into our sufficiency?
…correct our thinking about how the world is ordered and who is the leader in our life. Can we recognize that we have wandered from God’s call to love, to serve, to include, to be one with? Can we return God and God’s vision of the Kin-dom to be the primary belief system form which we operate? Can we surrender to Wisdom?
…prepare us to be true followers of Christ! God dwells among us and within us. We are a sacred people called to be holy for the sake of others, for the sake of our world. Can we allow ourselves to be clay in the potter’s hands so that our lives serve God’s purpose clearly, boldly, courageously?
…connect with one another as sisters and brothers! We are not enemies of one another. Many of our differences are cause for joy and surprise that are meant to expand us and open us to the diversity God has placed within Creation. When our differences are born of intolerance or narrowmindedness, can we turn to God begging for the grace to have eyes that see as God sees? When those differences violate us or others, can we seek justice born of respect and hope?
This Advent is a season of peace, hope, joy, and love and in this harsh time we need to cleave to God’s grace, mercy, and unconditional love. May we see, hear, feel, taste, touch God’s call to be alert and watchful, may we be clay in the potter’s hand, and may we birth the love of God so desperate for healing.
Sr. Didi Madden, OP