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Watch and Pray

First Sunday of Advent, Year B (03/12/2023)

(Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b, 64:2-7; Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37)

Fr. Samuel Odeh

No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you doing such deeds for those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 64:4)

Today we begin the season of Advent, preparing us for the season of Christmas.  It is also the beginning of our liturgical calendar year.  Advent comes from the Latin ‘adventus’ which means “coming.” The story of our lives today as Christian believers is a state of waiting to meet with Christ when he returns at his Second Coming, and this forms the theme and emphasis of all the readings at all Masses for the first part of Advent.  In the second part of Advent leading unto Christmas, the readings focus on the First Coming of Christ at his birth.  Today’s lesson is about the quality of our “waiting” in the hope to meet with Christ again and the activities that must command our attention in the meantime.

In our first reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah, the author prays for God’s “coming” and visitation in the strong belief that he always works “great deeds” for those who “wait” for him.  We are reassured that in our waiting to meet with him, God will not disappoint any “that joyfully works righteousness,” any who consider God’s ways.  In our second reading from 1 Corinthians, Paul is grateful to God that his audience “are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ…”  In the gospel reading Jesus instructs his listeners to “watch and pray” and to “stay awake” so as to remain always prepared for “the coming”, for a sudden and unannounced encounter with Christ.

Do I consider it important to “wait” on God, giving his plans for my life a chance alongside my own plans?  Am I joyful and happy when I carry out the work of God or am I resentful and bitter?  Am I intent on growing in “spiritual gifts” that enrich my witness as I wait for Christ’s many “comings” such as patience, and alertness?  Do I order my life and daily activities with the disciplines and regimen that guarantee success like the “doorkeeper” in the illustration Jesus used in today’s gospel?  Am I confident in my “waiting” that the next meeting with Christ, as well as his ultimate victory, will definitely take place someday?  Today we pray that the Lord will keep us watchful and prayerful.

And what I say to you I say to all: Watch.” (Mark 13:37)

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