December 3, 2023
1st. Sunday of Advent: Is 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7; 1 Cor 1:3-9; Mk 13:33-37.
Introduction: The common theme of today’s readings is that vigilant service prepares us for the coming of Christ as our Savior at Christmas and as our Judge and Lord at the end of the world. The reason the liturgical year ends and begins with the same theme is clear: if we have already embraced Jesus in his first coming, we will have no fear of his second coming.
Thus, Advent is the season of special preparation for, and expectation of, the coming of Christ. It encourages us to examine our lives, to reflect on our need for God to enter our lives, and to prepare earnestly for, and eagerly await, the coming of Christ. He will come to us in the celebration of the Incarnation, in His continual coming in our daily living, and in His final coming as our Lord to judge us all and to renew the Father’s creation.
Life Message: “Ready or not, here I come.” When you were a child, did you play the game, “Hide and Seek”? If you did, you would remember that the person who was "it" closed his eyes while the rest went to hide. To give them time to hide, the child started counting: 5, 10, 15, 20 and up to 100. Then he would say, "Ready or not, here I come!" The point of the game was to hide oneself so well that the leader could not find you, for if he found you, and beat you back to the goal, you had to be "it" the next go-around. The secret of the game was preparing oneself against being found and caught. With excitement we heard the words, "Ready or not -- here I come!" -- In today's Gospel lesson Jesus is saying to the world, "Ready or not -- here I come." In chapter 13 of Mark, Jesus tells us that he will be returning to the earth "with great power and glory." As in the game, this is not a game, there is counting and an accounting going on right now. It is a countdown before the blast of his appearance on earth again, this time to judge the world and to gather his faithful to himself.
Conclusion: Therefore, using apocalyptic images, the Gospel urges the elect to be alert for the return of Christ because no one except the Father knows the day or the hour of the Lord’s return. Consequently, Jesus summarizes the complexities of Christian living in two imperatives: "Take heed!" (Be on guard) and "Watch!" (Be alert, stay awake, and don’t grow careless). In short, our life on earth is to be one of productive service, uninfluenced by a supervisor's presence or seeming absence. That’s why in the 2nd. reading, St. Paul fervently prays for the reconversion of Christians in Corinth, and indeed all Christians, who have misused our gifts and charisms and remain ill-prepared for Christ’s Second Coming. For, as the gatekeepers and the household servants we are expected to be ever vigilant, because our master is sure to return, but though the time is uncertain, the reward or punishment is sure and certain.