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11/22/2002
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Advent reminds us to help prepare way for reign of God
By Denise Simeone
Cathoic Key Scripture Columnis

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Advent reminds us to help prepare way for reign of God By Denise Simeone Catholic Key Scripture Columnist My kids had pooled their money and ordered something together from a catalog. The day after they mailed their order, they were checking the mailbox. Every day it was the first place they ran after coming home from school. To them it was possible that any day was “The Day” their package might come.

“Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come,” begins Mark’s Gospel on the First Sunday of Advent. Jesus tells his followers to watch, be on guard, pay attention, stay awake!

Advent is almost upon us and once again we begin a new liturgical year with a different cycle of readings for Year B, the year of Mark. This Advent season we will hear Mark’s Gospel only on the First and Second Sundays (John’s Gospel is read on the Third Sunday and Luke’s on the Fourth). Mark does not give us any Nativity stories, he doesn’t talk about characters remembered in Christmas carols or pictured on holiday cards. Mark’s Gospel, the first to be written and the shortest, spends no time on any events before Jesus’ entry into public ministry. Mark wants his community to hear the message clearly. His Gospel begins with this proclamation: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (1:1) and in case we missed it, Mark has the Roman centurion proclaim it in his last chapter as Jesus dies on the cross: “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (15:39)

Jesus lived in a world where people were broken by poverty and devastated by sickness and pain, a world where people were oppressed and lived without hope for a better life. It was to this world Jesus proclaimed the reign of God, a message of hope. Everything Jesus did and said proclaimed that the reign of God was at hand, and that message led him to the cross. For Mark, a disciple must proclaim the same message and be willing to follow Jesus to the cross.

This Advent stretches before us as an opportunity to ponder what happens in our world. Be aware, alert! Advent reminds us that we have a part in preparing the way for the reign of God. We remember once again that God so loved humanity that he became human. We hear readings that help us recall our part in this story as we remember the generous promises of our God.

Advent comes to us in the very busyness of our lives. Watch! It calls to us from amidst the chaos of home decorations and family preparations. Pay attention! That message sits on the edge of our consciousness as we plan holiday dinners and workplace parties. Stay awake! Advent haunts us, reminding us why we are celebrating: God comes among us!

God comes among us and shows us how to care for one another. We are often reminded how painful our world can be. We read about earthquakes and disasters that end lives and destroy neighborhoods. God comes to this world. We know that families and homes are splintered by addictions or ravaged by illnesses and health care costs. God comes to this world. We witness the violence of gunfire that makes widows and orphans and takes the lives of children in their playgrounds and schoolyards. God still comes to this world.

In our families we discuss celebrating with simpler gifts. Yet God reminds us of the many who will die of starvation and sicken from lack of clean water. God comes. In our communities we collect food and remember the needs for justice among all of God’s people. God reminds us of our part in the systems that cause injustice. We remind ourselves about our country’s use of the world’s resources in proportion to our population, and God reminds us to use less. We give blankets and warm clothing to those in need. God invites us to consider our role in a world where human beings do not have a home or what they need to stay warm. Once again God comes.

On the Second Sunday of Advent we hear in Peter’s epistle. “What we await are new heavens and a new earth where, according to his promise, the justice of God will reside.” (2 Peter 3:13)

Now it is through us that God comes to this world, bringing the promise that relationships can be recreated and healed, and peace and justice can find a home. Watch! The day of God’s reign comes!

END


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