|by Angela (Lambert) Jendro|
December 3rd, 2017 1st Sunday of Advent
Gospel of Mark 13:33-37 NAB
Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!'”
It’s the season of watching. Watching for sales and gifts, watching beautiful Christmas lights, watching school Christmas programs, watching Hallmark movies, watching the mail for Christmas cards and watching for our loved ones to visit. It can also become watching the calendar fill with a myriad of commitments, and watching our to-do list lengthen like the unfurling of a scroll that tumbles across the floor to the end of the room.
The excitement of the season can also be draining. We endeavor to conserve our energy and find balance between the work to prepare for Christmas, and actually relaxing enough to enjoy it. The thrill of finding the perfect gift on Black Friday a few weeks later devolves into frantic stress over the hard-to-buy-for person. The hours in the day seem to disappear as fast as the shrinking sunlight. Upon lighting the first advent candle as a child, I would groan at the long wait ahead of four interminable weeks. Now, as I pull the advent wreath from my tub of Christmas decorations, I groan that there are only four short weeks left to get everything done.
If we let the activity distract our aim, we may miss the target and lose the wonderful opportunity for reconnection and generous love Christmas offers. However, if we keep our sight on the purpose of each of our activities, we will hit the mark. The cleaning, decorating, cooking, shopping, travelling, and planning can either leave us exhausted and cranky toward those we love, or they can invigorate us with energy and joy as we revel in lavishing our love on them and treasuring precious time together.
This time is also rich in opportunities to lavish our love upon Christ. During Advent, parishes often offer a spiritual retreat or host an evening with a speaker. The liturgy of the mass includes special prayers and Scriptures, and many people add advent traditions of prayer in their home such as lighting advent candles, reading Scriptures alongside a Jesse Tree with children, or another devotion. Community outreach is everywhere you turn from winter wear drives at work or school, to food donations, and toy drives.
Today, the first Sunday of Advent, our Gospel reading serves to focus our sight on the right target – the Good News that Christ has come and will come again. He has saved us, freed us from sin, and heals our souls. During the present age we have been entrusted by Him, “each with [our] own work,” but we must always remember that He is the Lord and ultimately we watch and await His return.
How do we keep watch? Daily in prayer, weekly at Mass, and at every moment with love in our hearts to lavish love upon Christ in those around us. Mother Teresa served each day with this verse as her aim: “Whatever you did for the least of these, you did it for Me.”
May this season of Advent and Christmas invigorate rather than drain, as we keep our aim on love and on Christ.
- What do you enjoy most about the weeks leading up to Christmas?
- How might you enjoy them more, and prioritize your time better?
- Reflect on the gift of the Incarnation. Consider the humility of Christ to become man. Contemplate His love for you, that He desired to be so close. Reflect on the gift of His grace and redemption.
- What gifts has Christ given to you over the years? What gifts has He blessed you with this year? Are there any spiritual gifts you might put on your Christmas list to Him presently?
- What might you offer to Christ as a gift? What do you need to do to prepare it?
Make a Resolution (Practical Application):
- As we spend more time with family, friends, and coworkers this season, spend more time with Christ as well. Decide on how you will do this – go on a retreat, attend a speaker at your church, read an advent devotional each day, spend time with Scripture…
~ Written by Angela Jendro © 2017
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