Let the season of Advent be one of hope
By Sharon Priester
First Sunday of Advent/Dec. 3
Isaiah 63:16b-17,19b; 64:2-7; Psalm 80:2-3,15-16,18-19; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37
During this Advent season, we are preparing for the celebration of the birth of Christ, renewing our desire for “His second coming.” Each of the readings this Sunday, and those for the next three weeks, helps us focus our attention on Christ’s presence in our lives, as well as the lives of those who have gone before us or those who will follow us. Let the season of Advent this year be a season of hope — hope that we will step out and believe what we cannot see and accept the mystery of our faith. We “hope the child born in Bethlehem will return one day and usher in the Kingdom of God.” (“Five Minutes with the Word,” Advent 2016)
In the first reading this week, Isaiah describes the Israelites’ exile in Babylon, which has come to an end. The people turned away from God during their exile but are now begging Him to come to their aid. “Rouse your power, and come to save us.” (Psalm 80:4).
They know they have sinned and promise that they will turn away from their sinfulness as they wait and watch for that day when God returns and forgives them. They have become a people of “hope” and trust, and are confident that the Lord who comes will indeed save them. Having come to an understanding of the importance of God being at their side as they journey onward, they await His coming with great expectation.
“BE WATCHFUL! BE ALERT!”
“Jesus said to his disciples, “Be watchful! Be alert!” . . . you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming.” (Mark 13:33-37) Watch! They were to watch and stay alert to the presence of Christ. We too should stay alert to the presence of Christ each and every moment of our lives. We are called to watch for His coming with expectant hearts.
How do you see Christ in your life or in someone else? Each and every one of us faces challenges often. You are the work of God’s hand. Knowing that, how will you respond to the challenges that await you? How is this response the same or different from how you would have handled these challenges several months ago?
Take some time in prayer each day, using the words of Psalm 80:4: “Lord, make us turn to you, let us see your face and we shall be saved.” Amen
SHARON PRIESTER has served as a parish catechist and director of religious education, Bible study leader, RCIA team member and coordinator, and regional director of religious education for the Diocese of Peoria. She is a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Bloomington.