First Sunday of Advent (B)


1st Sunday of Advent (B) Mc. 13:33-37 – December 3, 2017

Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.“

Clive S. Lewis, the Irish writer, in his novel The Screwtape Letters, tells that once Satan was training his student devils, but before he sent them to the earth, he interviewed them. To the first he asked: “What will be your strategy?” He said: “I will tell people that God does not exist.” The Devil shook his head and said: "Most know our Enemy exists." The next said: "I will instruct people hell does not exist." Satan was not satisfied: "After so many crimes, terrorism and corruption, people know hell exists.” Then the last one was a young devil and said: “I will tell them not to worry, they have plenty time to change and be good.” Satan was happy and said: “You are a bright devil. You will be in charge of the whole legion.

In the Gospel from Mark we start reading in this new Church Year, Jesus tells us the mystery of his final coming in glory with a short parable. He says: "Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come (…) May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch´" He compares his final coming to a man traveling abroad and who had placed his servants in charge of his house. The servants must do the work assigned to them, and the gatekeeper must be on constant watch awaiting the return of the master of the house. Jesus said to his disciples three times today, “Be Watchful!” We do not even know what God has in store for us next week, next month, which is almost next year; in the future. Whatever comes will be a blessing, if we hope it is in God.

In our first reading from the prophet Isaiah, we hear that the exiles have returned from Babylon to find their homeland devastated and the temple destroyed. But there is a hope for God´s people: “Yet LORD, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands.”

In the second reading from his First Letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul gives us God´s blessing for today and throughout the coming year. Paul tells us that God has come among us, "God with us." Because of this grace, we are able to stand firm with the Lord's strength as we await his final revelation in power and glory, despite difficulties and suffering; and “God is faithful.”

The truth that “Christ will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead” is part of our Profession of Faith every Sunday. Today, during Advent and throughout the year we pray after The Lord´s Prayer: “Protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ.”

Advent, as a preparation for Christmas and for the final coming of the Lord, is the season of hope. The Gospel today teaches us that we need to hope, and we need to watch. In one of the soccer games of the under fifteen Cup, one of the boys starred. The boy spent the whole match running back and forth, hoping and waiting, then with last additional minute left in the game the ball came to his feet near the goalkeeper. He was ready. He took the shot, goal, and the game was over. But we cannot watch if we are distracted. If the young man was not watching and alert, and instead was thinking in his girlfriend, he would not have been where he needed to be to receive that pass.

Most of us think that we have the whole world of time to set the record straight with God. Somebody said, “The most dangerous word in any language is the word ´tomorrow.´ Write your plans in pencil. Then give God the eraser.” (Unknown) If you decide to put off reconciliation with God, you let the third devil to convince you.

This life, despite troubles, is beautiful when we hope in the Lord and are ready for his call. I am sure that each one of us can tell a story of how his or her life has been blessed by hoping in God and answering when he has called. To watch and to be ready is what this First Sunday of Advent is all about.

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