Theme: ADVENT IS A TIME TO PRAY FOR THE COMING OF THE LORD AT CHRISTMAS
- Isaiah 63:16-17; 64:1. 3-8
- Psalm 79:2-3. 15-16. 18-19. R. v. 4
- 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
- Mark 13:33-37
1. Today we celebrate the ﬁrst Sunday of Advent. The word Advent means “coming” — the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas! Jesus Christ came the ﬁrst time 2000 years ago and Jesus Christ will come a second time at the end of the world! Jesus Christ came the ﬁrst time to give us his Holy Spirit, his grace, his love, joy and peace, and when his love, joy and peace become complete and perfect in us, Jesus Christ will come a second time to take us to heaven with him! But in the meantime, Jesus Christ will not abandon us to ourselves for two thousand years and perhaps for another two thousand years! We celebrate Christmas every year because every year, every month and everyday Jesus Christ continues to come and strengthen us in the Holy Spirit that he has given us in his ﬁrst coming! Every year beginning with Christmas — every month and every day Jesus
Christ continues to help us grow in his grace, in his love, in his joy, in his peace and in his mercy until the end of time when his grace, love, peace and joy become complete and perfect in us and he will come a second time to take us all to heaven with him!
This is the good news and it makes a lot of sense! It is very meaningful even to the young. Young people do not like abstract ideas, nor are they fearful of the end of the world, nor are ethics and morals appealing to them! They want meaning, inspiration and something real! They want something that can help them make sense of life and give them a vision and a mission in life! In other words young people are very very good people! They are even better than old people! The law of Evolution?
2. The gospel today tells us to “stay awake”! To stay awake to pray! There are certain communities in our Sacred Heart Cathedral who take this gospel literally! Every day of Advent until Christmas they will wake up very early in the morning to pray! And even before the sun rises, and even before the priest wakes up for the 6 am mass, they will already be in church watching and praying! In this ﬁrst week of Advent they will also wake up at 2 am or 3 am in the morning to pray! I am not asking you do it because I myself am not dong it!
3. The ﬁrst reading tells us to pray for the coming of the Lord! In the ﬁrst reading the prophet Isaiah prays for the coming of the Lord. There is urgency and immediacy in his prayer: ‘Tear open the heavens and come down Lord! Why let your servants go astray! Return to us Lord here and now! Yes, we have sinned and you were angry with us. We have been unclean. Like dead leaves we are blown away. But Lord, you are our Father. We are clay in your hands. You are the potter who can shape us and reshape us!
This text of Isaiah was written in the 6th century B.C. when the Israelites returned from exile from Babylon. The temple was still in ruins and everything was still in a mess and the people were still committing sin and suffering and dying!
The Church has chosen this reading today to tell us to pray with the same urgency and immediacy as Isaiah! To begin with, some people think that only holy people pray or that we pray because we are holy. This is not true! The truth is that we pray because we are miserable, suffering and dying because of our sins! That is why there is an urgency and immediacy in our prayers! We cannot wait another two thousand years for the second coming of Jesus Christ! We are unhappy, we cannot love, we cannot forgive, we cannot even accept ourselves, we are suffering, and we cannot wait for another two thousand years! Jesus Christ has to come here and now this Christmas!
4. The responsorial psalm takes up this same theme of prayer and again there is urgency and immediacy in the psalm: ‘Oh Lord, come to our help. Let your face shine upon us and we shall be saved. Look down from heaven and see us. Visit this vine (Israel like the vine needs care and protection) of yours. Put your hand on the man (the king who represents the people) you have chosen’.
5. In the second reading today, from the ﬁrst letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul thanks God our Father for giving us his graces and his Spirit through his Son Jesus Christ as we wait for the second coming of Jesus Christ! His graces and his Spirit will protect us, make us strong and help us grow in his graces and in his Spirit until the end of time and the second coming of Jesus Christ, when we will be taken to heaven with him!
This is what I said at the beginning, i.e. Jesus Christ will not abandon us to ourselves after his ﬁrst coming, but will continue to grace us and help us grow in his Spirit until the end of time when we will be perfected and completed in him and we will be taken up into heaven with him! This is the good news!
6. That is why during these four weeks of Advent as we prepare for Christmas, the Church asks us to pray, to go for confession, to attend Sunday and daily masses, to do penance, to do good works, to practice charity, and to be Santa Claus to the poor, the children, the aged, the weak, the sick, the handicapped, etc., so that when Jesus Christ comes at Christmas we may be able to welcome him and receive his Spirit, his grace, his love, his peace and his joy, and so that we may grow in him until the end of time when we will be taken up into heaven with him!
In this mass let us thank the Father for giving us his Son Jesus Christ and let us ask the Father to help us in this time of Advent to prepare ourselves for the coming of his Son Jesus Christ at Christmas! A happy Advent to all of you! Amen!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.