First Sunday of Advent
December 3, 2023 — Year B
Readings: Is 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7 / Ps 80 / 1 Cor 1:3-9 / Mk 13:33-37
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
Advent is a unique time in the liturgical calendar. It is a sacred time set aside for us to journey in faith with the Church as she prepares to celebrate the birth of Christ. In these weeks, as we look deeper into our hearts and into the heart of our Faith, we may experience a mixture of conflicting emotions: joy and sorrow; hope and fear; thanksgiving and remorse; anticipation and dread.
The readings on this Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, stir up many such thoughts and feelings. The gospel today gives us strong and somewhat alarming words from Jesus: “Be watchful. Be alert. You do not know when the time will come.”
We know that the Lord is coming, but we do not know the time. This can make us uncomfortable. We do not want to be caught off guard or unprepared for what we know is coming. We may even feel some anxiety about what we anticipate. On the other hand, we are also quite capable of putting things out of our minds. We know what will come, but we simply do not think about it. We get lulled into complacency, procrastination, or distraction. With His strong words Jesus jolts us out of our complacency by reminding us that He may come at any time, so we need to be constantly vigilant.
There is a story about a man named John, who was always waiting for something. He was waiting for the right time to start his business. He was waiting for the right person to marry. And he was waiting for the right moment to retire.
One day, John was talking to his friend, Anna, about his waiting. Anna listened patiently, and then she said, “You know, John, you’re always waiting for something, but what if you just started living your life now? What if you stopped waiting for the perfect moment and just started doing what you wanted to do?”
John thought about what Anna said, and he realized that she was right. He had been waiting for so long that he had forgotten what it was like to live in the present moment. John decided to start living his life now. He started his business; he married Anna; and he retired when he was ready. He was happy that he had finally stopped waiting and started living.
The lesson of this story is that we should not wait for the perfect moment to start living our lives. We should start living now, and we should enjoy the journey.
The gospel reading for this Sunday is Mark 13:33-37. In this passage, Jesus tells His disciples to be watchful and alert, because they do not know when the Son of Man will come. This is a reminder to us that we should always be prepared for the coming of the Lord. We should live our lives in such a way that we are ready to meet Him at any time. We should not wait for the perfect moment to start living our lives. We should start living now, and we should enjoy the journey. And we should always be prepared for the coming of the Lord.
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 pray actively. One way to be prepared for the coming of the Lord is to live our lives in a state of grace. This means that we should be free from sin and in a state of communion with God. We can achieve this by confessing our sins regularly and receiving the Eucharist.
Another way to be prepared for the coming of the Lord is to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to Him. This means that we should live according to His commandments and strive to do good in the world.
We should also be watchful and alert for the signs of the times. These signs include the increasing violence and hatred in the world; the environmental crisis; and the growing number of people who are suffering. When we see these signs, we should be reminded that the end times are near and that we should be prepared for the coming of the Lord.
We should not be afraid of the coming of the Lord. Instead, we should rejoice, for He is the one who will save us from sin and death.
While we wait, we have work to do. Like the man who put his servants in charge of his house, Jesus puts us in charge of His house, which is both the Church and the world. We all have something to do in preparation for His return, as He has left each with his own work. Jesus makes it clear that His message is not only for the apostles but for all of us. “What I say to you I say to all: Watch.”
St. Paul, in the second reading, reminds us that our readiness for the Lord is not something we accomplish, but a gift of grace that we are to welcome. We do not need to fear the Lord’s coming, for although we are sinners, we have been enriched in every way. Thus, we can rejoice in anticipation of the Lord’s return. As St. Paul says with great confidence, “You are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
As we begin the holy season of Advent, we are not relying on our own human strength, but on His divine strength. He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ Himself is the source of our hope and joy.
And so, as we continue to celebrate our Mass, let us pray that we will always be prepared for the coming of the Lord. May we live our lives in a state of grace in a way that is pleasing to Him, and watchful and alert for the signs of the times.
May Jesus Christ be praised.