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Engaging the Word: 11/30/14

In the reading from the Gospel of Mark assigned for this first Sunday of Advent we hear Jesus instruct his disciples, “Be watchful!  Be alert!”  It is important to note that when someone suggests an action or behavior to us it points to a couple important truths about who we are.  First, it assumes that we are capable of hearing and responding, but it also points to our freedom to take the opposite action or no action at all.

This truth of human freedom and the capacity to act is also noted in the reading assigned to this week from the prophet Isaiah.  Isaiah asks, “Why do you let us wander, O LORD …?”  The answer is, of course, that the Lord wants us free.  It is only in freedom that we can truly receive the Love and life that the Lord offers us and respond in love by living our lives to the full.

Isaiah’s question reveals another truth about our human condition:  we desire the Lord.  At the most fundamental level we want to be close to our Creator, to know God’s ways, to be pleasing to God, and to rest in God’s love.

So we have a drive to know and be formed by our God, but we are also free and can be distracted and get off track.  Advent is a good time to remind ourselves of these truths, that we have a desire for God yet in our freedom we wander.  It is also a good time to remind ourselves that our God has come among us as one of us, as one who shared our desires and our freedom, and has given us the good instruction to be attentive, to be alert to the ways in which God’s love and God’s call to love appear in our lives.  Our faith teaches us that the Kingdom of God is at hand, God’s rule in our lives is as close as the exercise of our freedom to turn from wandering and walk in union with Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  This Advent let’s recall that the Lord has come into the world and one day will come again.  Let’s remember, too, that in a way the Lord comes into our lives every time we notice God’s loving presence and call to us and we receive it in freedom, responding to our deepest and most true desires.  Be watchful!  Be alert!


1st Reading: Isaiah 63: 16-17, 19 ~  Responsorial: Psalms 80: 2-3, 15-16, 18-19                2nd Reading: 1 Corinthians 1: 3-9  ~  Gospel: Mark 13: 33-37


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