First Sunday of Advent Year B by Rev. Fr Ata Mensah

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First Sunday of Advent Year B by Rev. Fr Ata Mensah

First Reading: Isaiah 63:16-17, 19
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
Second Reading: First Corinthians 1:3-9
Gospel Reading: Mark 13:33-37


Theme: Keep Waiting


Today the Church begins a new liturgical season of Advent which is made up of four weeks. The four-week period affords members of the Church the opportunity to anticipate with joyful yearning and longing the coming of the Word of God and His continuing presence in the world and the Church and to prepare to receive Him into our hearts. The season of Advent has a two-fold character, namely: a time to prepare for Christmas when Christ’s first coming to us is remembered and a time when that remembrance directs our minds and hearts to await Christ’s second coming at the end of time. The latter is what our readings of today try to focu on.

Explanation of the Text

Our first reading from the Prophet Isaiah seems to suggest a post-exilic text. It was probably written after the exile and the content reflects the situation of the people of God having returned from exile in Babylon. The joy and enthusiasm that characterized the return will soon wane as they hit the snag trying to rebuild their city and spirituality.

Things were hard for them and for once they felt God has abandoned them. This can be seen in the lovely sentiments of the Prophet such as “Why do you not see us? Yes, we have sinned, but you are a forgiving God, you care for us. Why do you hide from us? Is it that you’re angry with us?”

Of course, the thing that makes this a lovely passage is to know that, in the harshest and most difficult of times, the prophet is speaking like a man in terrible need of God Himself. Not just to know that God exists, but to feel His strength, to feel that He is once again manifesting Himself to His people. The people were just waiting for God’s intervention into their perplexing situation.

The word waiting seems to be visible in all the three readings of today. What does it mean to wait? In Hebrew (qavah – kav-waw’) the figurative meaning of the word is “to bind together like a cord.” It doesn’t mean to tie a cord around a bundle of sticks to keep them together. Instead, it’s the process of making a rope by twisting or weaving small strings together to form the rope. The more strands that are twisted or woven together in a rope, the greater is its strength. The literal meaning of the word is “hope”. Thus waiting has a nuance of hope; to wait means to hope for.

In his admonition to his followers, Jesus in our Gospel reading charges them to watch and pray. He uses the Greek word grégoreó which means “to be awake” and not paratéreó which means “to observe scrupulously”, to underscore the point of waiting. St Paul in our second reading also reiterates the message of waiting to his disciples.

I know we are in very difficult times and many have already given up, looking at how covid-19 is ravaging the world with its attendants socio-economic problems. The world is just waiting for a solution. Let us not lose faith but keep on hoping that all will be well. Advent is a special time for all believers to open their hearts more fully to the love of God and to the eternal salvation offered to all by Christ. Keep waiting and believing that all will be well…


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