"Stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming." (Mark 13:35)
Today, on this First Sunday of Advent we begin a new liturgical year, cycle B. Today also is the dawn of a new era in the Church’s history, because the new translation of the Roman Missal will be officially introduced worldwide. The long anticipated wait is over, and the time for change is finally here. Once again the Church will be praying to God in one voice. As we light the first candle in the Advent wreath, we remind ourselves of the brightness it brings amidst all the darkness in our lives and in the world. It symbolizes our desire, longing and hope for Jesus to come and save us from sin and death. Advent is about letting God come to us. We do the letting and God does the coming.
The first reading from the ‘Psalm of lament’ covering Isaiah 63:7-11, speaks of the return of the Israelites from the Babylonian exile. They are filled with high hopes because of Isaiah’s prophesies, but sadly nothing seems to happen. So, they long for Yahweh to intervene. “Return!” they plead, “Oh that you would tear open the heavens and come down!” God must open heaven’s doors and come down. This same desire and cry for intervention has long been associated with Advent. Even psalm (80) is a community lament, a cry for divine intervention. It says, “visit this vine” and the “man you have chosen” which refers to the Messianic King, Jesus. Thus the psalm is also a petition to God to send the Messiah. In the second reading, Paul glorifies God for the blessings showered upon his people. These blessings are ‘charisms’ for ministry. Paul exhorts his people to utilize these talents so that “you may not be without the gifts of the Spirit while you are waiting for our Lord Jesus to be revealed.”
The gospel ‘parable of the doorkeeper’ tells of a man who goes abroad keeping his servants in charge of his house. Instructions to the doorkeeper are, “Stay awake!” That the master will return is sure--- When? No one knows. Nonetheless the doorkeeper must stay at the door and keep watch on everything that is stored behind it and everyone standing before it! And hopefully when the master returns he finds the doorkeeper awake, and not asleep!
Doors convey multiple meanings. Closing doors is security but also inhospitality; opening them suggest welcome, but invites trouble. Advent reminds us that our mind is a ventilator our heart is a window, our self, a door. It’s time now to open our minds to new beginnings, fresh ideas, our hearts to more people, and our lives for deeper commitment to the One who comes, if we let him. Sadly for many this beautiful season is filled with shopping, decorating and re-decorating, renovating only the exteriors for Christmas. What about stopping for Christ? Stop! Watch! Wait! “Listen, I stand at the door knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you” (Revelations 3:20). Doorkeeper are you awake? Will you open the door so that the Lord can come and dine with you this Christmas?
“Maranatha, Come, Lord Jesus Come.”