(The B cycle Gospels come mostly from Mark with some from John)
Our readings this Advent are dominated by the expectation of the various comings of Christ: his coming in history, his coming at the end of history and hiscontinual coming by faith in the lives of believers.
The texts from Isaiah capture the yearning of the returning Babylonian exiles for a renewed experience of God. They also contain a humble admission of guilt, a lament.
The people question God: “Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways,
and harden our hearts so that we fear you not??
The people remember: “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, with the mountains quaking before you,
while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for, such as they had not heard of from of old.
No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you doing such deeds for those who wait for him.
The people pray: “Would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in our ways!
The People lament: “Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful;
all of us have become like unclean people, all our good deeds are like polluted rags;
we have all withered like leaves,and our guilt carries us away like the wind.
There is none who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to cling to you;
for you have hidden your face from us and have delivered us up to our guilt.
This Isaiah passage invites us to cry out to God in complaint: Why have you not protected us? Why have you allowed things to get so bad?
The readings for the first Sunday of Advent direct us to acknowledge the difficulties that face us in life. But we are not to stay there. We are to turn our gaze to the hope of a brighter future. The images of God in the readings give us hope: father, artisan (potter), shepherd, and vinedresser.
Despite all that we have done wrong, our wandering, hardened hearts, fears, not seeing and hearing, our sins, our uncleanness, our polluted rag deeds, our being withered like leaves, our guilt, there is the wonderful and excitingYET: “YET, O LORD YOU ARE OUR FATHER; WE ARE THE CLAY AND YOU THE POTTER, WE ARE ALL THE WORK OF YOUR HANDS.
Paul reminds the Corinthians and us: You were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge¼you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait. By him you were called.
Our faithful waiting unfolds between memory of God’s awesome deeds and yearning for a God who can accomplish what no eye has seen nor ear has heard for those who wait.
According to Mark, the command of Jesus is not only for the disciples who are listening to him, “What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!” It isn’t one more appeal. The warning is for all his followers of all time.
Do we not have to rediscover the authentic face of Jesus which attracts, invites, challenges and awakens? Do we not feel the need to awaken and strengthen our relationship with Jesus? Pope Francis tells us: “You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them. That’s how prayer works. What action am I being called to?