Today is the First Sunday of Advent.
During the four weeks of Advent, we prepare for the celebration of Christ’s birth through prayer and reflection. Amid the Christmas preparations, we look for practical ways to observe the holiness of the season in our everyday lives. (Follow our Advent calendar on our website in preparation for Christmas. It can also be downloaded and printed.)
With Advent we mark the beginning of the Church’s liturgical year. Advent is a season of waiting with hopeful expectation. We look forward towards Christmas and the birth of Christ. Advent draws us into the mystery of God. We are invited to contemplate God whose promises are embedded within our time and history, shaping it and slowly bringing to fulfilment in unexpected ways and through the least expected people. In Advent we encounter God who never ceases to surprise us.
In the season of Advent, we grow. Our hearts are enlarged to embrace the suffering of the world in God’s love. In such a love, we do not get trapped in despair and powerlessness because we know we have a Saviour, ‘Emmanuel’.
Advent is the time of opening ourselves to the risk of hope, and the power of the whole world in all its times, places, people and circumstances. We are asked to see this world as God sees, knows and loves it, with all its beauty and painful truth. The contemplation invites us to attend also to the response of one, small, unseen young woman in Nazareth. She is our teacher and guide in this Advent time. She is the one who can teach us how to listen deeply, contemplatively, and she is the one who can show us how to be open to the impossible thing that God does.
First Reading: Isaiah 63:16-17,64:1,3-8
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Gospel: Mark 13:33-37
The readings announce the coming of the Lord. They ask us to “be awake”, to engage all our senses, and especially interior senses, that we can see what the Lord is doing and how the Lord is bringing about the fulfilment of his promises. (Mark 13:33-37)
They invite us to ponder the very nature of God who is active within history as its Lord. Who is this God for whom we are waiting? Who is this God who is faithful to us and God’s creation?
What does the Lord ask me to see? What is the knowledge and the desire he wishes to place in my heart?
I speak to the Lord about my fears and doubts; also, about my desires and longing as we pray in this week of Advent.