MK 13: 33-37 ( https://catholicreadings.org/first-sunday-of-advent-year-b/ )
Advent again. Advent is a very rich and interesting liturgical season. It is described variously. Maybe one word describes it well. That is ‘waiting’.
However, some may be confused by the word ‘waiting’ and the word ‘time’. Last year we waited, and Jesus came. He comes every time that we celebrate the Eucharist.
In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus said, “I am with you always” and he did not ascend into heaven as in the other gospels. Jesus stays with us so why wait?
Jesus did come and at this time we remember the first coming of the Christ child in silent simplicity; the wee baby is God’s gift to us; His son. When God gives us His son, he gives us everything. During Advent and Christmas, we remember this gift from God, and we await Jesus’ final coming at the end of time. In advent we remember and celebrate, and we also look forward to Christ coming in glory. As we do not know when he comes, we are advised to “stay awake”.
There are probably very many people who say “I am really looking forward to Christmas.” They mean it and have good reasons for looking forward to this season. They meet loved ones, they receive gifts etc. but how many say I’m looking forward to Christ coming?
I’m remembering and celebrating what God has done for us in the Christ event. We should remember that it was done “for us and for our Salvation”. We remember that years ago Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Now we welcome him to be born in our hearts. Awaiting Christmas is a time to remember gift-giving because at Christmas God gave us the greatest gift. So maybe we need to ask ourselves what gift have we for our Father at Christmas? Gift-giving calls for reciprocation.
About 100 years ago words in vogue were evolution and communism. Economists, social scientists and anthropologists discovered that there was no such thing as a gift. Our custom of gift-giving is a hangover or an evolution from the time of barter, a time when people had no money, no market or no deep freeze. So they shared. We give gifts to those who give us gifts; we send Christmas cards to those who send us Christmas cards. All our gift-giving is investment but as we reflect in joyful hope we see that there is a gift and only one: “The perfect gift comes from above”. It is love.
If a man gives a precious object to his wife, is it a gift? Yes, if it is a genuine expression of his love so at this time our gift to God is love and the only way that we can love God is by loving one another.
Tom McDonald C.S.Sp. – One of some two dozen Irish Spiritans ordained in 1960, Fr. Tom spent most of his missionary life in Kenya. Anthropology is his speciality and he has lectured in Dublin and Nairobi. He is chaplain at St. Michael’s Hospital, Dún Laoghaire in Co. Dublin.