First Sunday of Advent Gospel Reflection

In the Gospel for this first Sunday of Advent, Jesus warns his disciples at the beginning of the passage, "Be Watchful! Be alert!" and again at the end: "What I say to you, I say to all: "Watch!"

When many of us hear a command like this, our natural follow up question is: "What should be watching for?" The easy answer is that we should be waiting and watching for the birth of Christ on Christmas Day. But he was already born over two thousand years ago.

This question is important because we need to clarify what we are watching for so we do not miss the whole point of the Advent Season.

We watch and wait in a context. And the context of our preparing for Christmas often times gets us distracted. We get distracted by all the commercial messages we receive about shopping smart for Christmas from the Black Friday sales, which has now turned into Black Thursday, to the special sales two days before Christmas.

What are we watching for and waiting for? I would suggest that the answer is contained in the initial proclamation of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark: "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news." What we are really waiting for is the deeper faith realization that the birth of Jesus Christ in time is really Good News. It was good news for the shepherds and over two thousand years later it is the same for us. And what was the good news to the shepherds? "To you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord." So what we are preparing for is a deepening awareness of the Good News that we have a Savior. And how do we let this happen so that when we celebrate Christmas in our Churches and in our homes there is space in our hearts and families for what we are really celebrating. We create these spaces by clarifying what we are watching for during the Advent Season with the simple prayer: "Come, Lord Jesus, help me to grow in a greater awareness that you are my Savior. You have saved me from endlessly searching for the meaning of life. You have saved me from turning against myself by your forgiveness. You have saved me from endlessly searching for signs of your presence because you touch me through your Sacraments. You have saved me from thinking that the possessions or positions I have will save me and make me loved. Thank you for continuing to save me."