Year B; First Sunday of Advent
Mark 13: 33 – 37
Chapter thirteen of Mark is enough to fill us with terror. It does not fit into my idea of Good News. vv24 – 31 seem to present one disaster after another. We will have to wait for the thirty third Sunday of the year to learn more about them. Today’s reading is actually a text of hope. Our God is a God of surprises. “.. stay awake, because you never know when the time (a moment of grace) will come.” Early on and cool clear morning I sat looking at a beautiful garden; God was tangibly present in this oasis of his creation. In an instant I had, at a time I least expected it, been touched by the hand of God. With this thought in mind take time to read our text several times.
(READ OUT LOUD TO YOURSELF AND HIGHLIGHT WHAT TOUCHES YOU)
What is your title for today’s Good News?
Here’s mine: “A Moment of Grace”
(Jesus said to his disciple) 33Be on your guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come.
34It is like, a man travelling abroad: he has gone from his home, and left his servants in charge, each with his own work to do; and he has told the doorkeeper to stay awake.
35So stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming, evening, midnight, cockcrow, dawn; 36if he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep. 37And what I say to you (Peter, James, John, Andrew – 13: 3) I say to all: Stay awake! “evening, midnight, cockcrow, dawn” The Rabbis of Jesus’ time taught that God intervened in history (gave us a moment of grace) on four nights. The first night was at creation when he said “let there be light”. (Gen 1) The second was when he made the covenant with Abraham. (Gen: 15) On the third night “.. all the host of the Lord left the land of Egypt.. This was the night of the vigil of the Lord.” (Ex12: 42) Finally the “Day of the Lord” will come. The time when God will be fully in charge. When you and I accept the Reign of God in our lives. The dawn of God’s coming into my life is now.
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I am sure that you all found the repetition of “Stay awake”. This is an invitation to hope, trust and have confidence that God will grace us even though we may be going through a time of darkness. Stop a moment. Ask yourself, “Is it possible that I am being offered a moment of grace right now? What am I missing?” Perhaps the answer lies in the first reading for today, Is 63: 15 – 64: 8 Use this text for a second period of prayer. Read it carefully searching for the grace that God is offering you.
“Look down from heaven and regard us”. We are immediately aware of the presence of God. 19bO, that today you would rend the heavens and come down,
with the mountains quaking before you. Heard this before? “.. the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God, descending like a dove, coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.
Mt 3: 16-17
Listen to God addressing these words to you, NOW!
“This is my beloved daughter / son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Listen to these words, repeat them over and over, pray them in the depths of your heart.
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Return once more to Is 63: 15 – 64: 8
Highlight all the characteristics of our God.
Where is your zealous care and your might, your surge of pity and your mercy? O Lord, hold not back, 16for you are our father.
Were Abraham not to know us, nor Israel to acknowledge us,
You, Lord, are our father, our redeemer you are named forever.
7Yet, O Lord, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands. 8Be not so very angry, Lord
keep not our guilt forever in mind; look upon us, who are all your people.
PRAYER using the words of Scripture The future will depend on what we do now. Gandhi
Lord, forgive us for giving up too quickly just because evening and midnight have passed. When we stop hoping, we miss the opportunities you send us:
• A moment of reconciliation comes and I do not notice it;
• The word of encouragement that could have strengthened the wavering person is left unspoken;
• We give people things but not the space to grow;
all because we are not awake – to the needs of others. (M de Verteuil)