Fr Vincent's reflections on the 1st Sunday of Advent
Jesus tells us to “Watch,” but does this mean we sit still and do nothing? On this First Sunday of Advent, we begin a new Church Liturgical Year. Yet, even though we are still focused on the “End of Time,” it is a different focus than how we just ended the prior Church year.
Watch the video: Fr Vincent's reflections on the 1st Sunday of Advent
Read the text:
First Sunday of Advent 2020
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R/. Amen.
The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. R/. And with your spirit.
On this First Sunday of Advent as we begin a new Church Liturgical Year, let us pray:
Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God,
the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ
with righteous deeds at his coming,
so that, gathered at his right hand,
they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
As always, if you don’t have your Bible with you, please pause this video to retrieve your Bible so you can follow along.
The Gospel today is Mark 13:33-37.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.
It is like a man traveling abroad.
He leaves home and places his servants in charge,
each with his own work,
and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.
you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,
whether in the evening, or at midnight,
or at cockcrow, or in the morning.
May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.
What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”
The Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Welcome to the First Sunday of Advent and a new Church Year! We all certainly hope and pray that this year will be better than the last!!
Advent always begins with the same theme: “Watch!” And of course, we know we are watching for Christmas, the commemoration of the birth of Jesus. But we are also watching for the Second Coming of Christ at the end of time. Now, if you are observant, you will ask: didn’t the end of the Church year already focus on the Final Judgment; why are we still talking about the Second Coming when we start a new Church year?
Well, first of all, the Church year is meant to be cyclical, so we start where we ended. But also because Jesus came to earth, that is, He was born, so that we would have a way to get to Heaven, to be eternally reunited with God. So, the First Coming is naturally tied to the Second and truly only happened because of that final reunion. So, Advent is preparing for Christmas because we are ultimately preparing for the “End of Time.”
This “End of Time” preparation and watching during Advent, however, is not focused on reward and punishment like the “Final Judgment” with which the Church year ends. Rather, we focus on reunion with God and the completion of the order of creation. The Incarnation of the Son of God brings divine / holy completeness to creation. What was distorted by the sin of our first parents is healed and made whole by the entry of God into creation itself. This is Jesus’ goal: to present to his Father the world as God created it before sin.
Therefore, the goal of our Advent is not a watching as if we are sitting still and waiting for God to do something, but rather, we are to be cleansing our minds and hearts of whatever separates us from God so that we are ready to remember the birth of Jesus and to celebrate our “rebirth” as holy and belonging to God. We watch and prepare actively by doing all that is good and holy now to be ready to enter immediately into the fullness of creation when Jesus comes to complete God’s plan.
That means, we seek to pray more fervently, we seek to be generous in a deeply heart-felt commitment to the good of others, we choose to avoid any selfish behavior that is contrary to the loving presence of God within ourselves and within the people around us. We should ask ourselves the question: what can I say or do to make God’s presence more real in our world today? The more I make my part of creation full of God’s presence today, the more the world becomes ready for Jesus to complete the “End of Time” reunion in his Second Coming which the Incarnation began with his First Coming.
This is how Advent links the First and Second Comings of Christ and invites us to be an active part of the process by preparing to remember the first and getting ready for the second.
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen.