Bulletin: December 3, 2017
First Sunday of Advent
As we enter into a new Advent season, our readings urge us to watch eagerly for our redeemer. Isaiah cries out to the Lord with feeling, “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down”! Thanks be to God, we know the Lord has come down to us. God is, in fact, still present among us in the Eucharist and in every created thing. Yet, like Saint Paul, we know Jesus promises to come again; we await that mysterious, final revelation in fellowship with Jesus and one another. Even in the best of Christian communities, however, waiting can be dreary and difficult. Mark’s Gospel gets our adrenaline flowing: “Be watchful! Be alert!” Although we have the enormous consolation of knowing Jesus already saved the world by his death and resurrection, we must ask the Spirit to rouse us to prayer and service as together we watch for Jesus.
COMMERCIAL BREAK CLIFFHANGERS
Anyone who has ever turned on a TV is familiar with the cliffhanger strategy. Just before the climactic ending, a show is interrupted for a long series of advertisements. Dramas withhold their shocking endings, reality television makes us wait to see a makeover’s big “reveal” or to learn who gets kicked off the show, and the intense battle of the last “two minutes” of Thanksgiving football games seems to take longer than the turkey in the oven. Though cliffhangers may irritate us, they almost guarantee we will watch the commercials in order to enjoy the resolution we long for.
In a way, we are living in a commercial break. Forty days after rising from the dead, Jesus ascended into heaven. The disciples stood gaping until angels snapped them out of it: “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Jesus’ ascension is the cliffhanger; our daily life is what fills the time until Jesus comes back.
CAUGHT DOING GOOD
Thankfully, our daily life means so much more than any commercial break. We are not just marking time, because God treasures our daily thoughts, works, joys, and sufferings. Nothing escapes the loving attention of the Lord. Nothing is irrelevant to God. In fact, we are God’s beloved servants, “each with [our] own work,” as Jesus says in the Gospel. God knows intimately our challenges and wants to accompany us in all we do. A line from today’s reading from Isaiah can help us connect our daily work with God’s love: “Would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in our ways!” During Advent, we can offer that prayer each morning, inviting the Lord to guide us as we live and wait.
Today’s Readings: Is 63:16b–17, 19b; 64:2–7; Ps 80:2–3, 15–16, 18–19; 1 Cor 1:3–9; Mk 13:33–37