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Stay awake... you 
know not the hour

Happy New Year! Welcome to the Church’s New Year as we celebrate the First Sunday of Advent for year B in
the liturgical cycle. The prominent gospel readings in this cycle are taken from Mark, but due to his being the shortest gospel, we
will have readings from other evangelists as well to complete the year.

As we begin Advent, we enter into a time of spiritual preparation for the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ into our world, as one like us. This is a time for us to prepare our minds and our hearts to receive Christ into our lives.

The Glenstal Bible Missal introduces Advent with the following words, “God has done his part. He has torn open the heavens to come to men (all people). He has forgiven the faults of his people. He has vigorously defended the oppressed. He has prepared in Mary the royal dwelling for his Son. Now he waits. He hopes for results: the obedience of faith, a sustained watchfulness, the courage of conversion, a holy life.

“The powerful voice of John the Baptist recalls this hope which is God’s and which the yes of Mary has already fulfilled. The lives of Christians will not disappoint his hope if they are in accord with the humble and unfaltering faith of the Mother of the Saviour.”

This is only a short passage to announce this important season, but the words become more powerful for us if we take them to heart and try to live out the message. The overriding message is that God has done all this for love of us.

“Stay awake!” Jesus calls to his disciples. Jesus uses the image of the master going abroad, having given each of the household members their tasks, but none of them know the time of his return.

This is Jesus’ message for us. Although we are preparing to celebrate his birth, our task during Advent for the preparation and celebration of his second coming, to which this week’s gospel is referring, is no different.

The preparation should focus on re-affirming our faith in God, living a life of love of self and neighbour, and ensuring that we can never be complacent in what God has called us to.

We consistently pray to the Holy Spirit to guide us in living out the gifts that we have received and to be constantly aware that we display the great fruits of these gifts in our lives, within our families and friendship groups, our workplace and our social activities.

These fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) flow from the gifts and it is important to realise that they belong to us and are the necessary ingredients for a faith-filled life.

With these fruits we will be able to stay awake. These are the tasks that Jesus speaks about to his disciples.

Our time of preparation has begun. What is there in our lives that may inhibit us in living out these fruits? What is there that can be done in our time of preparation to receive Jesus into our hearts, as we celebrate the great feast of Christmas?

These are questions that it might be good to reflect upon, as we move through this Advent. May the Holy Spirit fill your lives with his presence on this journey.

Deacon Les