Our Gospel passage (Mark 13:33-37) for this First Sunday of Advent reminds me of my dad and his job as cabinetmaker. In his capacity as senior cabinetmaker, once a month or so, he would travel to a faraway lumberyard where he would select boards of mostly hardwood according to the needs of his Company’s new projects; and mark them with the Company’s logo for shipment to the woodshop where he worked.
Those days of his absence from home were a bit easier for mom because we kids were motivated to be on our best behavior so as to get the candy or the occasional toy that dad would bring home upon his return. Those were motivations and expectations that worked with us kids. As we grow and mature, our motivations and expectations must change and be inspired by God’s Word in order to be interiorized.
The Bible calls this interiorization having the law written in our hearts.
But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD. I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jeremiah 31:33)
Advent is the season that the Church sets aside for clarifying our motivations and for focusing on the fulfillment of God’s promises. Every year, Christmas Day is there to remind us of the incredible, astounding fact that 2000 years ago, God entered our time/space. He became one like us and united every single one of us inseparably, irrevocably, forever with Himself.
In this grace-filled context, ADVENT must become the high time of full awareness of our calling, of our mission and of our destiny.
Our first reading (Isaiah 63:16-17, 19; 64:2-7) offers a realistic picture of the world we might have contributed to create, and about which we might feel rather ambivalent.
Why do you let us wander, O Lord, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?
This bewilderment about the shape of things all around us, accompanied by the messy condition that we might discover in our hearts, makes us wonder also about the future. We have reasons to feel apprehensive, confused, disoriented. We might also reminisce of the good old days and realize that they may not return.
The young among us are chomping at the bit and rather impatient with the pace of things. They would like to react strongly and unwisely, make sweeping changes or start from scratch. Those of middle age realize that they are slowing down and cannot keep up with the pace of things. With so many issues to attend to and not enough time, they tend to feel quickly tired, overwhelmed and—even…rushed. Those of the older generation might shift back and forth from the feeling of disgust and even cynicism for the way things have deteriorated, to the feeling of passive acceptance of, and resignation to the inevitable.
Yet, regardless of our age bracket, this Advent reminds us that God has entered our history; that we are still the clay, and that He is the most skilled potter. Finally, Advent assures us that God, the Almighty potter, will never give up on us. Advent is the time set aside to check and confirm the path down which Jesus is leading us. Advent is upon us so that we may stay that course.
To this end, St. Paul (1 Cor 1:3-) invites us to look inside our traveling bag. Upon careful checking, we will see that we have received all the gifts we need to reach our destination. We should look around at our brothers and sisters of all ages and burst into thanksgiving to God because of the favors He has bestowed on us all.
We shall see that we are not lacking in any spiritual gift as we await for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep us firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Hence, today is the day to rest in the presence of the Risen Lord, to pause on our journey so that we may find new resolve and purpose and purify our motivations and expectations around the Tables of the Word and of the Eucharist.
In here, if we are young we shall see that instead of being impatient or rebellious we are called to contribute to the wellbeing of the Mystical Body of Christ with our energies, youthfulness, our dreams and our innovative ideas.
In here, if we are middle-aged, instead of falling victims to the irrational, panicky, confused, hectic pace of life, we shall contribute balance and the right proportion of maturity and drive.
In here, if we are old, instead of spewing cynicism or being passive and resigned to the inevitable, we shall contribute the preciousness of our experience, of our wisdom, of our faith tested by the countless battles of life.
Advent groups us all as servants in God’s household. Age should be inconsequential. What should count is our determination to love and to serve the Lord by loving and caring and serving each other in our needs.
We should do so in full attentiveness, in total preparedness, in continuous expectation and unshakeable hope. Happy shall we be whenever our Lord returns to call us to himself in death if He finds us always busying ourselves with our assigned task of loving and of serving. Always prompt to attend to His needs until the whole Total Christ will have reached the perfection of God’s ageless Love.