Isaiah 63:16-17, 64:1, 3-8; Psalm 80; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37
We begin the Church year today with the First Sunday of Advent. Advent is the season to prepare for Christmas as well as the second coming of Jesus. In the Gospel today, Jesus warns us to keep alert at the beginning of the reading and in the end, he tells us to keep awake. Jesus will come but we do not know when. Two questions come to mind about the coming of Jesus: why does he have to come and what happens when he comes.
The First Reading answers these two questions. Jesus has to come because we have strayed from his ways and we cannot save ourselves. When we reject God, we walk the path of destruction. The author of the First Reading sees this happening which is why he calls God to turn back and lead his servants again. It seems that when the people rejected God, God left them and hid himself. We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a lead, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity. When we reject God, he leaves us to ourselves. He lifts his protection and we will be left on our own to face the consequences of our rejection. Which is why the author begs God to tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence.
Yes, in the midst of our situation, when we feel like God has abandoned us, we beg God to come down from heaven, to let the mountains in our lives quake and melt away. This is what happens when God enters our lives. When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect. God will do great things beyond our expectations! He will rescue us from our situation. When we call, God responds and comes quickly to save us. What will Jesus do when he comes? He will reveal the Father who is the God no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen. He is the God who works for those who wait for him.
Yet, we know when God comes, we will still be immersed in our situation. Our condition will still be there. But the difference is God has entered the mess in our lives and he will do great things which we have not seen. St Paul says he will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus will come, but not to just satisfy what we ask. He comes because he wants us to be blameless before him so we can fellowship with Jesus Christ our Lord.
In this pandemic, our plans and hopes may have been destroyed. Our finances may be affected. We may have lost some of our possessions. The Good News is, God is here, and he has a plan that is beyond our expectations and he will make it happen if we invite him into our lives and allow him.
We may be living in sin. We may have done something before that is making us feel guilty or ashamed. We may have ignored him for a long time. And we may be in a situation that seems hopeless, and the only way out is to end our lives. If this is how we feel right now, we need to turn to God. He cares and he wants to set us free. His mercy is beyond our expectation and he wants to heal us and make us whole. He can do this and he wants to do this. We just need to tell Jesus to come to our life.
Advent prepares us for the coming of Christ, so we can fellowship with him. Jesus became man. He entered history to save us so we can see the Father. But we must respond to his desire to save us. This is an invitation to allow God to enter our lives, to acknowledge what the First Reading says: You are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Advent is a call to allow God to work in our lives. This is possible only when we turn to God and invite him into our lives.
Lord Jesus, I come to you in my condition. I cannot do anything about it and only you can help me. Here is my life. I surrender it to you for you to do as you will. Stir up your might and come to save me. Turn again, O God of hosts; look down from heaven and see. Have mercy, for I trust in you.