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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Nov. 27, 2011

By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service
November 27, First Sunday of Advent

Cycle B Readings:

1) Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7

Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19

2) 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Gospel: Mark 13:33-37

I would like to think that when Jesus comes back I will be singing his praise or serving the poor or, even better, walking down the aisle on my way to receive Communion. But I fear that when the Lord returns in his glory, as lightning flashes from the east to the west, I will be in traffic saying not so nice things to the vehicle in front of me. I do not think such a transgression will keep me out of heaven, but I would be pretty embarrassed.

As Advent begins this year, the Sunday readings remind us of our tendency to get off track and the need to stay watchful. Isaiah asks a question I also wonder about: "Why do you let us wander, O Lord, from your ways?" It sure seems like it would be easier if God never let us stray. But, of course, if God were to do that, we would not have free will.

Isaiah goes on to speak to my previously stated fear: "Would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in our ways!"

To help us achieve this wish from the prophet, Jesus tells us, "Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come." The New Testament Scriptures remind us often that Jesus is coming again in glory to judge the living and the dead. Yet, in every prediction of his return, the day and time are not revealed. Thus we must always be alert for the advent of our Lord.

How are we to stay alert all the time? This seems to be an impossible task. The Gospel gives us a hint. It says that Jesus has left us in charge, "each with his own work." I suppose this work can take many forms: participation in the sacraments, prayer, Scripture reading, service to the poor and even looking for Jesus in everyone we meet.

Another way to look at this "work" is to live each day as if Jesus will return that day. If he doesn't, we get to try again tomorrow, and then if he comes, we won't be embarrassed, for we will have been watchful and alert.


What are some things you can do to stay alert for the coming of Jesus? What will you do this year to prepare for the celebration of the Incarnation?


"Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning" (Mark 13:35).


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