Homily First Sunday Advent. Year B - Sunday, December 3, 2017
First Reading: Isaiah 63:16-17; 64:1.3-8
Psalm: 79:2-3. 15-16. 18-19 “Lord make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved”
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Gospel: Mark 13:33-37
Please listen to my audio recordings of the readings, prayers and reflections for the First Sunday Advent. Year B - Sunday, December 3, 2017, by clicking this link here: https://soundcloud.com/user-633212303/faith-hope-and-love-ep-61-advent-1b (EPISODE: 61 )
As a Priest, I am aware that I can and do get called out to urgent situations any time of the day or night… I can remember a few times in my early years when I was in a deep sleep and woke up for an urgent callout…. And I was half asleep and not really prepared… I would hit my head on the cupboard.. put the shoes on the wrong way around… put my shirt on backwards.. or struggle to find a clean shirt in the rush… but fortunately, I have a ritual now, that I am sure all people develop who get called out suddenly… before I go to sleep I place my shoes in a special spot… put out a fresh shirt and hang it on my door-handle ready… socks in the right position… so I can leap up and be ready to respond at any time…. This is similar to the readings this weekend.
Sometimes we are prepared and sometimes we are not… and it makes a big difference….
It is extraordinary – Our Lord tells us that no one knows the time or the hour… only the heavenly Father… EVEN JESUS does not know the day or the hour. So, who are we to even try to guess?… We must simply live every hour and every day as if the Day of the Lord could come upon us suddenly…. Ready.. watchful, busily about the works of the Kingdom….
Saint Augustine once wrote: “It is by design that Our Lord hid the time and date of the last day from us…. It is so that we would be on the lookout for Christ every day of our lives…….”
If we were somehow to know the answer to when the day of the Lord will come, we would be focusing on the deadline… the endpoint. Instead of being busy with our work… The Kingdom is not a conclusion point…. The Kingdom is a way to live and act in each moment of life now…
No wonder many completely missed the first coming of the Messiah, some two thousand years ago… they were looking for the wrong things… They expected a warrior king… but who arrived was a suffering servant… he came and went and many were asleep in his presence…. The pattern of watchfulness is the same as Christ’s passion and death… On that night before, the disciples fell asleep, they were unprepared when Our Lord was arrested under cover of darkness.. they abandoned him… Peter was not ready when he was accused of knowing Christ and denied him three times before cockcrow…. And at dawn .. the Lord was sent to be tried…. He was ready at all times.. we must be too…. Alert and always ready to live the gospel of non-violent resistance …We are merely servants, but God has delegated authority to us to do certain work…. But this is only delegated authority, we will be asked to account for its use….we remain ready to respond at any time… vigilant for justice, faithful to the poor…. Compassionate to those who suffer…. Christ comes to us suddenly and unexpectedly in the face of these as well… …
Watchfulness: That is the focus for the people of God as they journey through the church year; watchfulness for the coming of the Lord on the feast of Christmas, vigilant for the end of days, and in fact alert to the ways Our Lord comes to us in the ordinary events and people in everyday life.
In the Gospel, Jesus challenges us to “stay awake”, to pay attention. But, pay attention to what? TO the things of the Kingdom around us…… Being attentive to our lives. Looking our family member or friend in the eye when they’re telling us something. Notice the look of worry or frustration on our friend's brow. Paying attention to the sun streaming in through our windows, Taking time to the taste of our food, Alert to the news about a news of hardship suffered by people in our own community. It’s Advent. A time to be watchful. A time to look at our lives and see if we are ready. Ready to welcome Christ in so many ways,
And meanwhile, as Saint Paul says in the second reading: “You will not be without any of the gifts of the Spirit while you are waiting for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. (1 Corinthians 1:7)
Am I willing to let God be the potter, and myself be the clay in his hands……….shaping my life? We believe in God, but do we trust in God sufficiently to allow God to mould us and shape us in different directions than our own wilfulness– to step back from the control-seat and let God steer us a bit more….To open ourselves to being transformed by God’s hand……
It is good for us to stop and ask ourselves: What are some helpful practices that I have developed in my daily routine… that assist me in staying focused and alert to the heavenly master? And….Do we have any habits and practises that work against that alertness and watchfulness for God and God’s ways?
This gospel is not meant to give us sleepless nights…. The Lord does want us to have peaceful rest each day… This gospel, though, invites us to order and lives and priorities and be trained to respond swiftly to the things of the Kingdom and the action of OUR Lord, and ready to respond to the unexpected turns of life… have you ever seen photos of a fire station… where the fire engine stands is fueled and ready… and placed beside the truck …the safety boots and the safety clothes sit ready for speedy ‘access…. so they can just step right into them… ready, willing and able to respond .. Prepared… trained….and in the right frame of mind, to face whatever may come.
Surely, countless Christ-moments and Kingdom building moments come our way every day and who knows how many are missed.. or perhaps sometimes we are aware of how we missed them or responded poorly to them because we were on the back foot and not ready….….
Bergant, D. and Fragomeni, R. (1999). Preaching the new lectionary. Year B. Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press.
Birmingham, M. (2000). Word & worship workbook for year B. New York, N.Y.: Paulist Press. P 55-56
Fr Paul W. Kelly
Link, M. (2000). Mission. Praying Scripture in a Contemporary Way. Year B. Allen, Tex.: Resources for Christian Living.
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First Sunday Advent. Year B
(Sunday, December 3, 2017)
(EPISODE: 61 )
In this season of Advent, we feature an Advent Wreath – Its candles and green branches—are a reminder of God's promise to our world: Christ, our Light and our Hope, will come.
As with the light from this candle, so too may the blessings of Christ come upon us, brightening our way and guiding us by his truth.
May Christ our Saviour bring light into the darkness of our world, to us, as we wait for his coming.
1st CANDLE – (purple) THE PROPHECY CANDLE or CANDLE OF HOPE – We have hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises made to us. Our hope comes from our God, in home we trust.
O Wisdom, O holy Word of God. O Sacred Lord of ancient Israel. You govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. You showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush. Come and show your people the way to salvation.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
Kyrie eleison/ christe eleison/ kyrie eleison
May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
Let us pray
(in hope and expectation, for the grace to do good works)
We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again.
Eucharistic Prayer II
Communion side. pwk: LH
Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.