First Sunday of Advent (Year B)
Is. 63:16b-17; 1Cor 1:3-9; Mk 13:33-37
One time when I was surfing the internet, I read something about how we look at everyday of the week in a unique and prayerful way. This is how:
MONDAY is WASH DAY: “God, help me wash away selfishness and vanity, so I may serve you with perfect humility through the week ahead.
TUESDAY is IRONING DAY: “God, help me iron out all the wrinkles of prejudice I have collected through the years so that I may see the beauty in others.
WEDNESDAY is MENDING DAY: “God, help me mend my ways so that I will not set a bad example for others.”
THURSDAY is CLEANING DAY: “God, help me to dust out all the many faults I have been hiding in the secret corners of my heart.”
FRIDAY is SHOPPING DAY: “God, give me the grace to shop wisely so I may purchase eternal happiness for myself and all others in need of love.”
SATURDAY is COOKING DAY: “God, help me to brew a big kettle of brotherly love and serve it with clean, sweet bread of human kindness.”
SUNDAY is OPEN HOUSE DAY: “God, I have prepared my house for you. Please come into my heart as my honored guest so I say spend the day and the rest of my life in your presence.”
Today, my dear friends, is the First Sunday of Advent. The word advent is coming from the Latin word, “Adventum”, meaning, “coming”, but who will come? Many of us would answer that it is the coming of the birth of Jesus on Christmas day. But Jesus had already born more than two thousand years ago in Bethlehem. This advent is not only the coming of Jesus during Christmas day but also His coming at the last day, we call it Parousia or His Second Coming by which He will no longer save us but judge us.
The First Sunday of Advent directs us also towards the necessity of waiting faithfully for the certainty of the second coming of our Lord. When our Lord will return, what does the Lord expect from us and are we ready to meet His expectations? Are we ready to welcome Him into our hearts and be our guest for the rest of our lives? The Lord Jesus told a story that was familiar to His followers and that is, the necessity for laborers to be ready for action and ready to give their best when the master returned from his journey. Were these servants excited or anxious about their master’s return? The watchful servants looked forward to the future because they knew their master would be pleased and would reward them for their vigilance and hard work.
Jesus entrusts us with His gifts and grace and He expects us to be ready for action and prepared for the future. Our call is not only to believe but to watch; not only to love but to watch; not only to obey but to watch! What are we to watch for? The greatest event to come is the second coming of Jesus at the end of time. But the kind of watching our Lord has in mind is not a passive or “wait and see what happens” approach to life. The Lord urges us to be vigilant and to active prayer.
So the key word, according to Fr. Simplicio Apalisok in his homily book, Markings on the Desert, is the word WATCH. According to him, which I quote word for word, W-A-T-C-H stands for:
W stands for Words. Our irresponsible use of words can hurt and destroy people. Many relationships had been broken with onslaught of vile language, cursing and gossiping. Let our mouths be instruments of blessing rather than cursing and gossiping. Let our mouths be instruments of blessing rather than cursing, of kindness than condemnation, of appreciation than destructive criticism and of praising than blaspheming. That is why a saying goes this way: “The tongue should be used to bless rather than to curse; to compliment rather than to criticize; to highlight good qualities rather than focus on bad qualities.”
A stands for Actions. If we are to be jailed today for being a Christian, what proof can our accusers show that we are really one? If actions speak louder than words, do our actions reflect profoundly our faith? We know that mere profession of faith is not enough. We need to express it concretely in deeds. Can we be more loving, caring and forgiving in our lives?
T stands for Thoughts. A wise man once said: “All that we are is a result of what we have thought. It begins with our thoughts, it is carried on with our thoughts and ends with our thoughts.” The New Testament standard is that it is never enough to avoid doing wicked things; it is to restrain our thoughts not to even desire them. The word may never be concerned with judging the thoughts of humans. But for Christ, thoughts are just as important as actions.
C stands for Character. Saint Paul says: “Fortitude produces character” and “character produces hope,” (Rom 5:4). When trials afflict people, some may allow themselves to whine and grovel in despair, other may spur themselves with the opportunities of merging stronger and greater and nearer to God. Christians are those who set efforts and hopes in bringing about God’s kingdom in their midst. What is the character of our lives? Is it devoted to our own glory or God’s glory?
H stands for Hearts. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” (Matt 6:21). If our hearts fixed on possessions, we become greedy; if they are directed to having popularity and power, we become proud; if our hearts are set on worldly security, we become people of fear. What is in our hearts? Is it a heart full of love for God and for those whom we have committed ourselves to love? Or is it a heart full of H-Hatred, E-Envy, A-Anger, R-Resentment and T-Timidity?
We who ‘wait’ for the coming of the Lord will not be disappointed. He will surely come with His grace and saving help. Do we watch for the Lord’s action in our lives with expectant faith and with joyful hope? Let us watch our watch.