First Sunday of Advent - 3rd December, 2017

Liturgical Reflection

Isa.63:16-17, 64:1, 3-8; Mark 13:33-37


How powerful are the readings for this Sunday!  We approach Advent full of hope and expectation but the urging of Isaiah pulls us up short: on the one hand, he seems to blame God for not helping us “Why, Lord, leave us to stray from your ways and harden our hearts against hearing you?” while on the other, he puts the onus on us: “You (Lord) guide those who act with integrity and keep your ways in mind.”  The closing lines of the carefully selected verses remind us of one of Isaiah’s favourite metaphors: “And yet, Lord,” he says, “you are the potter and we are the clay.”

Let us look into some of the implications of the description that Isaiah gives.  In the passage from Mark’s gospel, Jesus advises us how to be his disciples and faithful servants.  He tells us four times to stay awake, also to be on our guard and not to be found sleeping.  Where is our integrity that attracts the Lord’s guidance?  I suppose all of us lament the lack of integrity we see in so many of our politicians.  Can we do more than lament?  Have we hope enough – are we awake enough? - to write about the proposed Adani Carmichael mine hanging like a stormcloud over northern Australia?  Have we hope enough to keep on writing about the refugees that Australia is treating so shamefully?  With December heralding Christmas, it is time to find ways of helping our needy brothers and sisters to have some joy at Christmas.  Let us, indeed, stay awake, not just in Advent but in the year ahead.

Helen Ryan OP