Saturday, November 28, 2020

Advent - Waiting with Renewed Vigour for the Lord to Come

First Sunday of Advent - 29 November 2020

Readings: Isaiah 63:16-17, 19; Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37

 (Image courtesy: Jean Marc Arkelian)

Our Creator Shepherds us

It is Advent. We sing ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel.’ Today, the first Sunday of Advent, marks the beginning of the Church’s annual cycle of prayer. With this we start the countdown to Christmas. On this day we undertake our liturgical journey towards Bethlehem where Christ was born 2000 years ago. It's the time to prepare to celebrate Christ's birth. When we prepare something for the future, we await with hope and expectation and here, it is for the Christ who is to come. God visits us in the person of Jesus Christ. “Oh that you would tear open the heavens and come down,” the prophet Isaiah (64:1) exults in today’s First Reading. God is looking down upon the humanity from the heavens because He has heard the anguished voice of Israel. Therefore God is coming down to us, to our level to save and shepherd His people. 

II

A call to re-engage ourselves for a future who is God

Even though today's readings are relatively brief they have a great message to give. The langauge is straight. Jesus says to us, "watch therefore—for you do not know when the master of the house will come" (Mk 13:35). For the Gospel writer Mark things move very quickly. Keeping watch to our Master is our duty. "You do not know when that time will come" (Mk 13:34); "You do not know when the owner of the house will come back" (13:35); "If he comes suddenly" 13:36), etc., are the pointers to say lethargy or timidity is not acceptable for a person aiming at the heaven. Every warning has something to say to us. Fundamentally, the admonition of Jesus is not to get frightened but be prepared. We cannot be slothful or foolish or complacent but wise and attentive to the voice of God. Such warning that Jesus gives us is to examine our life, our consciences, so that we may not harden our hearts or refuse to listen to His advice or refuse to follow His way of going about. Advent is an opportunity to put our acts in God.

III

Faithfulness will lead to a new life in God

With Covid lockdowns and quarantines, our life has changed drastically more than we could imagine. We must have asked many questions a number of time to that same kind and loving God, why this is so. Yet the consolation is that we are still here, still praying, still asking God for help we need. We don't want our God to be hidden so much. We want our God to journey with us and we need proofs of His presence. 

Whether we have been faithful to God or not, God has been faithful to us, as Paul reminds us in today’s Epistle (1 Cor 13:35). Through Jesus Christ we are enriched and we lack nothing. Because God is our provider and sustainer. We who are His children ready to listen to us. He will keep us firm till the end. For God is our good shepherd (Jn 10:11-15) who leads us to the heavenly Kingdom. He will give us new life if we call on His holy name and if we turn to him with sincerity of our heart. 

IV

An experience of unconditional love can share that unconditional love with others

God wishes to build relationship with us which is a wholesome and complete one. He does not want us to turn our faces from Him. God cannot stop loving us because He is unconditional. A person who has experienced God's unconditional love can give back to God and others the same unconditional love. God's intentions are pure and straightforward. God gives us His new life in a loving relationship. God's favour is immense and immeasurable. God begins His conversation with us through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus enriched our knowledge of God.  Because in Jesus, we have seen the Father (Jn 14:8–9). Perhaps it's our turn to focus our lives in a deeper, richer and livelier relationship with God. Nothing happens automatically instead it takes deliberate efforts and attentiveness to grow closer to God. This way of living might help us to start our lives with a deep faith in Him who has fathomed us. 

A call to enrich our spiritual gifts

Unlike other years, during this very difficult time, we have been keeping guard at all time. We have been vigilant of our health, covid infections, etc. Probably we have exhausted all our energies on keeping ourselves safe from this pandemic. However, the spirit of advent should help us to recharge our batteries and enrich our spiritual gifts of hope, resilience, attentiveness, encouragement, watchfulness, hope, charity, love, forgiveness and excitement. We are very much aware that many of our dear and near ones who were closely associated with us are not around to celebrate this Christmas with us. Many more have fallen sick. However, the spirit of Advent should brighten us up for Christ is our saviour. And he is our end and we end in him. So we have to make extra efforts to awaken the sign's of Christ's presence amidst us. Our short time on this planet should be an exciting one. Let our goodness, charity, brotherly and sisterly love enliven us wholeheartedly. Let the glow of Christ's presence make a difference during this dark times of our lives. Let the hope win the battle against dark forces that try to strike us down and defeat us. So that Advent Season may truly enrich us with the grace of God.

Questions for reflections:

1. What sense can you make of Jesus' instruction to stay awake here and now, disciples in the 21st century? 
2. What are your feelings and expectations as you start the season of Advent today?
3. What is your wish at the beginning of this Advent as I look back this year, which has been destabilising in every way?  What would you like God to be doing at the moment?
4. Our lives are like clay being moulded and shaped by God’s hands. Do you find that image comforting? Threatening? Challenging? Or what?

Prayer: Eternal God,  you will come when we do not expect you.   Help us to welcome you now in one another,   to reach out to our sisters and brothers  who are in need of care and support.  In this way may we be found ready,  when you come again in glory. 
O Wisdom 
Lord and Ruler
Root of Jesse
Key of David
Rising Sun
King of the Nations
Emmanuel 
Come, Lord Jesus.  Amen.  

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

28th November 2020

6 comments:

Joilin said...

Dear Olvin,
Inspirational article! This article is with a thrilling concept at it's core. Hopefully it has given me a better understanding about what's an advent means. The picture is very delighting. I have listened to your Audio. It's really wonderful! Hope this article surely create a difference in other's lives. Thank you.

Vincy.P said...

Incredible thoughts! Article that's best and appropriate for the day's reflections. It's really blend with latest insights from the Scripture. I admire your work. Wonderful presentation! God bless you Olvin.

lijiserin@gmail.com said...

Dear fr. Olvin, your writings are very touching and reflective. Thank you for nourishing us spiritualy with your insights.

Unknown said...

Thank you dear Fr.Olvin for the advent reflection. Very meaningful.

Prema said...

Good morning dear Father
My heart is full of wonder and praise to step into the season of Advent with the Wake up Call" Awake and Alert" from your enlightening article. I'm Wonderstruck at the way you brought out the message on how God hunger and thirst for the ordinary human being and making them extraordinary by being their Immanuel. " Maranatha! Come Jesus Come."

Godwin said...

Simple message with great enlightenment!