[Jesus said,] Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming… Mark 13:35.
Words and phrases highlighted in red are links to supporting materials.
The church’s new liturgical year Sunday begins with the last day of existence! Or looking forward to December 25. Or looking forward to the last day of our own personal existence. All might well be true, and all call for careful consideration and reflection. The word Advent comes directly from Latin – ad venire, to come to. There is a certainty in that word, as we will come to December 25 (always God willing, so even that has an element of uncertainty) and we know we will eventually come to that probably unknown day God calls us from this life, and Scripture states pretty clearly that all things will come to an end at some indeterminate time, which is true whether you are an astrophysicist or a humble Christian believer. All is destined for doom! It helps to get a friendly hand on that troubling reality, so we come to today’s note of reassurance. The readings today tell us to be on the watch at all times, and so be prepared for that day, whichever and whenever day it is, when God hopefully might meet us doing right, to quote from today’s first reading and therefore irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, taken from today’s second reading. So our faith offers some comfort when pondering the fate of each of us and all that is around us. We know what we should be about at that time.
Advent is not Lent, even though the priest’s vestments are the same color. Other Christian traditions, such as the Episcopalians, have adopted dark blue vestments for Advent, which seems to be a good idea. Advent asks us to adopt a reflective mood based on the idea of waiting in hope and trusting in God. Clearly the season leads to Christmas when we greet the Savior being born into our world once more. So it is a good time to put our spiritual house in order, rooting out the detritus which obstructs us from a clear vision of God’s arrival and what we should be doing as we wait. So a good Advent clean out would be an idea, perhaps even utilizing the sacrament of Reconciliation to get us back on track. It’s as if a dear friend or relative were coming to stay. The universal reaction would be to clean the house out so that it is immaculate, if you like, upon the arrival and all is ready. That would fit with today’s gospel. We, as God’s servants, must make sure all is perfect for the arrival back of the master of the house. That means no slacking or even relaxing. Our vocation, being Christ to the world with the talents we have been given, and our identity as children of God, both urge us to be perfect. If we are not, then today’s readings are a call to perfection, so that “….. you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in our ways!” to quote from today’s first reading. It’s interesting that we begin this season with the Thanksgiving celebration here in the USA this week. Today’s call to perfection should be greeted with a genuine “thank you” on Thursday for the blessings we enjoy and for the timely reminder that happiness is to be found in a life of gratitude and generosity and our willingness to display and act on those two qualities. Truly we are Christ to the world when we do such.
Thanksgiving, Gospel Herald.
Reflections on next Sunday’s Mass Readings will be posted on Wednesday.
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