A quiz for you. You are sleeping. You are dreaming. A big lion is chasing you. You try to run away and you see a tiger coming in front of you. You turn sideways, but every side you turn to, you find a ferocious animal coming after you. How can you escape? The answer is: Wake up. By waking up one enters a whole new world of reality, different from that of the dream world. What was a huge problem in the dream state becomes a non-issue in the waking state.
Today is the First Sunday of Advent. The word advent is coming from the Latin word, “Adventum”, meaning, “coming”, but who will come? Many of us would answer that it is the coming of the birth of Jesus on Christmas day. But Jesus had already been born two thousand years ago in Bethlehem. This advent is not only the coming of Jesus during Christmas day but also his coming at the last day, we call it Parousia or His second coming by which He will no longer save us but judge us.
When we are expecting a very important person to come, a particular reality called waiting is very imminent. When we wait, we feel anxious, uneasy, impatient and unsure if that person will come. Waiting is one of the large realities of life. And there are so many waiting in life.
The gospel of the day says, “Stay awake….You do not know when the appointed time will come.” In other words, be prepared always and to stay awake while waiting for His coming at an unknown time.
So, while waiting, let us prepare ourselves for His coming. How?
First, let us renew the way we speak, by using our God given tongue to uplift those people in distress.
Second, let us renew the way we act. A saying goes: “Action speaks louder than words”. Actions are very much important. Pope Paul VI, in his encyclical letter, said that “today we don’t need good teachers, what we need are witnessing teachers.”
Third, let us renew our attitude. We have so many attitudes that need to be renewed.
Lastly, let us renew our deeds.
Today’s Scripture readings express the Advent themes of hope, vigilance, and repentance. The Prophet Isaiah desires his people to atone for their sinful ways and turn their hardened hearts back to the Lord, who has done great deeds for them. In St. Mark’s Gospel, Jesus urges us to be watchful and alert, for we do not know when He will return. St. Paul reminds the Corinthian community, and us, that fellowship with our Lord strengthens us with many spiritual gifts — a timely reminder as we begin our journey into this Advent season. May we, as faithful stewards, put our hope in the Lord, acknowledge our sins, and seek with contrite hearts, His mercy and forgiveness. Advent is an excellent time to confess our sins by participating in the sacrament of Reconciliation.