First Sunday of Advent (December 3, 2017)

Today we begin the new Church year and the season of Advent - a time of devout and joyful expectation.

During these four weeks, we will prepare ourselves to celebrate the remembrance of Jesus’ first coming among us - when the Word took on human flesh in order to reconcile us to our Father. This remembrance will help us direct our minds and hearts as we await Jesus’ coming again as King, Judge and Savior.

This morning, the prophet Isaiah helps connect us to the longing of God’s people, Israel, who are in exile. Their prayer is a plea for God’s mercy, asking him to come again, as he had done in days gone by, and redeem his people with a display of his power and majesty. It’s easy for us to join the Israelites as they confess their sins and plead for salvation. Like them, we can acknowledge God as our Father; and, in great humility, open ourselves to be clay in the hands of the divine potter.

In this way, we can become more and more the “work of his hands.”

Paul encourages us to focus our attention on the favor that God has bestowed on us in Christ Jesus. We have been called to fellowship Jesus, and he will strengthen us to the end.

The constant call of Advent is heard in today’s Gospel. If we are really aware of the favor of grace that God has given us in Jesus, then we want to “be constantly on the watch.” We need to “stay awake!” for Jesus is coming again at a time no one knows. And when he comes, we want to be found living faithfully the way that he has taught us and graced us to live.

Our longing for his coming is best shown in our willingness to be fresh clay in the hands of God, asking him to mold us more and more in the image of Jesus during this Advent season. Then we can say with devout and joyful expectation each day:

“Come, Lord Jesus, come!”

May God be praised!