Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! Mk 13:3
In her article in Celebration, Sr. Mary McGlone reflects on this first Sunday of Advent and how we are called to be watchful and alert:
In our first reading, Isaiah laments the way people have gone astray, forgetting God’s call and presence among them. He begs God to rend the heavens, to wake the people up to what God is trying to form them to be. Pope Francis puts that and Jesus’ call into contemporary terms in The Joy of the Gospel when he says: “I do exhort all the communities to an ‘ever watchful scrutiny of the signs of the times’. This is in fact a grave responsibility” (#51). He goes on to say: “This involves not only recognizing and discerning spirits, but also – and this is decisive – choosing movements of the spirit of good and rejecting those of the spirit of evil” (Ibid).
Advent is probably the church season most vulnerable to corruption and being overshadowed by everything that coincides with it. Whereas the church starts to celebrate Christmas on the night of December 24 and continues through the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, society rolls into holiday mode after Halloween and into uncompromising materialism beginning with “Black Friday.” Our cultural Christmas ends abruptly on the night of December 25 – leaving only the tree that nobody wants to take down. Ironically there is nothing more distracting from the mood of Advent than our culture’s preparations for Christmas.
Our readings remind us that, as of today, we are not simply getting into the commercial Christmas season but entering into a season of conversion. Isaiah’s prayer calls on God to be the potter forming the clay of our lives. Jesus calls us to be alert to God’s unexpected appearances in our lives. Pope Francis tells us it is time to discern the spirit of the age in order to increase the good in the world and thwart evil tendencies.
How do our readings orient us to enter into this shortest possible Advent season – just 22 days long? Traditionally, we talk about Advent as a time of waiting. But this week’s readings emphasize watching – watching for the signs of God’s presence, watching for the ways in which God desires to act as the potter of the clay of our lives. Jesus told the disciples that the master could show up at any hour – when we should be at our task or in moments of well-deserved rest. The task of discipleship then is not so much to be busy as it is to stay alert.
One of the ways that helps us to stay alert is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Our Reconciliation Service is Tuesday, December 12 at 7:00 p.m.
Below are Reconciliation Services at Parishes close to us.
December 6 – St. Bridget, Pleasant Hill, 7:00 pm.
December 14 – St. Margaret Parish in Lee’s Summit at 7:00 p.m.
December 17 – Presentation Parish in Lee’s Summit at 6:30 p.m.
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is Friday, December 8. Masses are 8:00 a.m. & 7:00 p.m.