December 3, 2023 — First Sunday of Advent
IS 63:16B-17,19B; 64:2-7; PS 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19; 1 COR: 1:3-9; MK 13:33-37
Today we begin the beautiful and holy season of Advent. With all that we have going on this time of year, it’s no wonder that Advent doesn’t always seem to get the attention it deserves. But if we will commit to living this season well, we will experience a deeper conversion to Christ and find real transformation in our lives as Christian stewards.
Why? Advent calls us not only to look back in grateful contemplation of Christ’s first coming, but it also calls us to look forward in preparation for His Second Coming. Advent is a time to reset and regroup, to repent over any misplaced priorities, to turn our minds and hearts back to God while we still have time. We do so not out of fear or guilt, but out of gratitude for Love Incarnate lying in a manger bed.
We can take as our theme for this season the words of the Prophet Isaiah in our First Reading. “You Lord, are our Father, our redeemer you are named forever… Would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in our ways!” The passage ends with this verse, which is especially meaningful to the Christian steward: “We are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands.” In other words, our lives are not about us — rather, they are a gift to be used to glorify God and serve others.
In our Second Reading, from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, we are reminded of how extravagantly God has gifted each one of us. “You were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge… so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us embrace these Advent days to recommit to stewarding our spiritual gifts well. This will look different for each individual, of course. Perhaps a family can commit to setting up an Advent wreath and taking 10 minutes to reflect on the daily Gospel. Someone else may choose to be intentional in checking on a lonely neighbor each day to bring God’s love to them consistently. Maybe some will be inspired to scale back their usual gift giving and donate that saved money to those in dire need right now.
Whatever we feel God calling us to do, there is no time to waste. Jesus makes this strikingly clear in our Gospel passage from Matthew through the parable of a man going off on a journey. Before he leaves, he “places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.” We, of course, are the servants in this parable, each with a mission to accomplish in building the Kingdom of God. Jesus warns us over and over in this passage to remain attentive to the work He has given us to do, because we do not know when we will be called to give an account for it. “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.”
Our lives are a gift. This holy season is a gift. Let us awaken if we have grown weary or complacent, and recommit to living the stewardship way of life. Love came down to us as a Baby. And He is coming again. Be watchful!