Friday, November 28, 2008

November 30: First Sunday of Advent Year B

November 30: First Sunday of Advent Year B
Readings: Isaiah 63:16-17, 19; 64:2-7; 1 Cor. 1:3-9; Mark 1:1-8

This Sunday we begin the new Liturgical Year with First Sunday of Advent. Advent comes from the Latin word "adventus" which means "coming"; the coming of the Lord and therefore waiting for the coming of the Lord. We wait for some one we love, the Lord Jesus Christ. During the season of Advent, we focus on waiting for the Lord. As we begin the Advent season, Christ urges us to prepare ourselves because we do not know when he might come suddenly. What do we mean by being prepared or being watchful? Some years ago there was some TV breaking news that to me seemed to exemplify being prepared. The news was about a man in Memphis, Tennessee who accidentally walked into a store during a robbery. The gunman pointed his pistol at him and ordered him to hand over his money. The man responded, “Go ahead and shoot. I just had my daily Bible reading and said my prayers.” The robber was surprised and confused by that reaction, and the man walked away. I have to admit that I probably would have handed over my money, but I do admire that man’s courage – and above all his apparent readiness to meet the Lord. That is what Jesus tells us today. Be prepared. Be alert and watchful. The First Reading from Isaiah surprises us as it did to the Israelites by giving us a true diagnosis and by leading us to the truth about ourselves: “Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful; all of us have become like unclean people, all our good deeds are like polluted rags.” (64:4-5). That is why the prophet pleads to God to come back, but in actual fact it is the people who need to reform. This plea for help towards reform continues in the Responsorial Psalm. "Lord make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved". In the second reading, Paul thanks God for his blessings upon the Corinthians because of their faith and hope in Christ.

In this Gospel, Jesus offers a brief parable that highlights the importance of staying alert, being watchful and being vigilant for Christ's second coming. The parable is a story of a man who goes on a journey, after assigning tasks to his employees. He gives no indication on when he would come back. The point of the parable is that as followers of Christ we are called to live in a state of readiness for the arrival of the Kingdom of God. You and I do not know when he will come. But it will be soon. Over the next four weeks towards Christmas, the readings will focus our attention on spiritual preparation. Perhaps the best way to focus on the central message is to capture the sense of urgency in preparing for the Lord. One problem we have today is that we live in a culture whereby what matters most is “feeling good about ourselves.” That approach is not adequate for us Christians. Rather, we need to be guided by Christ’s life and teaching. Jesus challenges us and leads us to examine our lives and to accept his grace of forgiveness. Like in the story of the man in Memphis, we are called to stay ready to disarm the enemy, for we do not know when he might strike. The main message is clear. 1) We are challenged to take the opportunities provided by the Church during this season to enter more deeply into a journey of spiritual preparation; 2) The one we wait for is someone we love, Jesus Christ. Do we have a well prepared place for him in our hearts? Are we ready to open the door for Him any moment he knocks the door of our hearts?

©2008 John M. Mbinda

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