First Sunday of Advent (B)

The first reading for this, the First Sunday of Advent, has many verses that are key to our understanding of Advent. The prophet calls upon God to come down from heaven. He says that when the Lord does come he will come in power and might. He is the Awesome God. No ear has heard or eye has seen the might of God. We are the clay, he is the potter. We are the work of his hands. Six hundred years after the first reading, St. Paul returned to this passage recognizing that the  prophet was speaking about Jesus Christ and the power and might of the Kingdom of God, and our role in that Kingdom[1].

It is the second verse of the readings from Isaiah[2], that caught my attention, though. The prophet voices the complaints of the Hebrew people against God. They know that they were responsible for their own pain and suffering, but they complain to God: “Why do you let us wander from your ways?”  This strikes a chord with me, and perhaps with you.  I witness the devastation caused by sin, my own sin and that of others, and I get angry with God for allowing me and others to sin. Maybe you have experienced the same sentiments. Perhaps you, and I, have complained, “Why, Lord, did you let me go there? Why, Lord, did you let me destroy my life and the lives of others?”

Like the human beings that we are, we blame God for letting us wander from Him. Of course, we try to blame God to lessen our own guilt. We certainly don’t want to be reduced to animals and not have free will, not have the ability to make choices in life. But we have to cast the blame to someone other than ourselves; so we blame God. “Why do you let us wander from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we no longer fear you, O God,” the passage from Isaiah begins.

But then Isaiah says that God will come in power to heal us, to free us from the devastation of our lives. We have to wait for Him. This is the theme of the First Sunday of Advent! We have to trust in God, hope in God, and wait for Him to come to set us free from the mess; whether this mess is the mess of mankind who continually chooses hatred and sin over love and virtue, or the messes created by every person who choose selfishness over sacrifice.

Like the loving Father that He is, God sees our hurt, our pain, and hurts for us, even if our wounds have been self inflicted. He promises us a Savior to free the world from its chaos and to free you and me from our turmoil. Jesus Christ came to release the world from the power of evil. He came to free you and me from the power of evil. He did this through his death on the cross. His total sacrifice to the will of the Father was the supreme act of love for His Father’s creation. He did this for you and for me. Now, He calls us to make a new commitment to His Love.

And so we watch for Him to come into our lives. We watch for the Divine Healer to come and lead us into His love. We watch for the times, more than we could imagine, when God extends His love to us.  We watch for the times when we can serve His love by serving others. We watch for the opportunities to unite ourselves closer to His love through prayer and sacrifice. We wait. We watch. We watch for opportunities to grow. Advent, the time of watching reminds us that our entire lives must be a watching for ways that we can grow more spiritual, grow closer to Christ.

And He will come. Advent is a time of hope.  Our hope is in the Lord, who made heaven and earth, we pray[3]. We call on Him throughout Advent and throughout our lives, Tear a hole in the wall between heaven and earth, rend the heavens and come down.  Show us your power, your awesome deeds, and heal us with your love. For our hope is in you, O Lord. You are far more powerful than we are. We cannot create any horrible situation, any mess, that you in your love cannot or will not heal. Marantha. Come, Lord Jesus![4]

[1] The First Sunday of Advent (B), November 30, 2014. Readings: Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7; Responsorial Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37.
[2] Isaiah 63:17.
[3] in Psalm 124.
[4] Maranatha (either מרנא תא: maranâ thâ' or מרן אתא: maran 'athâ' ) is a two-word Aramaic formula occurring only once in the New Testament (see Aramaic of Jesus) and also in the Didache, which is part of the Apostolic Fathers' collection. It is transliterated into Greek letters rather than translated and, given the nature of early manuscripts, the lexical difficulty lies in determining just which two Aramaic words comprise the single Greek expression, found at the end of Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians (1Cor 16:22 ).If one chooses to split the two words as מרנא תא (maranâ thâ), a vocative concept with an imperative verb, then it can be translated as a command to the Lord to come.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris