First Sunday of Advent
November 30, 2008 Year: B
Is. 63:16b-17; 64:1, 3-8; 1 Cor. 1:3-9; Mk. 13:31-7
"You, O Lord, are our father; 'Our Redeemer from of old'
is your name. Why, O Lord, do you make us stray from
your ways and harden our heart, so that we do not fear
you? Turn back for the sake of your servants, for the
sake of the tribes that are your heritage.
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so
that the mountains would quake at your presence.
When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you
came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From
ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye
has seen any God besides you, who works for those who
wait for him. You meet those who gladly do right, those
who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid
yourself we transgressed. We have all become like one
who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a
filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our
iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one
who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us, and have
delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.
Yet, O Lord, you are our Father, we are the clay, and
you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand."
[Is. 63:16-7, 64:1, 3-8]
"My brothers and sisters; Grace to you and peace from
God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the
grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus,
for in every way you have been enriched in him, in
speech and knowledge of every kind - just as the
testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you - so
that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you
wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may
be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is
faithful; by him you were called into fellowship with
his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." [1 Cor. 1:3-9]
"Jesus said to his disciples, 'Heaven and earth will
pass away, but my words will not pass away. But about
that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in
heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep
alert; for you do not know when the time will come.
It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home
and puts his slaves in charge, each with a particular
task, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch.
Therefore, keep awake - in the evening, or at midnight,
or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you
asleep when he comes suddenly.
And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.'" [Mk.
There once was a king who loved to eat. When the castle
cook grew too old to prepare the meals anymore, the king
looked for a new cook. A young man applied for the job.
The king said to him, "I want you to cook me the best
and most important dish in the whole world."
The night the king sat down at the table.
When he looked at the special dish, he exclaimed, "Why,
that’s cow tongue!"
The young man answered, "Yes, it is.
Nothing is more important then the tongue if it is used
correctly. The tongue is used to teach, to explain, to
command, to defend, to calm. Tongues are used to sing to
babies and to make bargains. Tongue has to be the most
important thing for a king."
"I must say I didn’t realize that, young
man. You’ve opened my eyes. Therefore, tomorrow night, I
want you to fix me the worst dish you know."
The next night, the young man served the
king cow tongue. The king said, "What goes on here? Last
night, tongue was the best dish in the world. Tonight
it’s the worst. How can this be?"
"The difference is what you do with it,
sire," said the young man. "Tongues make gossip, stir up
trouble, and tell lies. Tongues are cruel and
hypocritical. Therefore, tongue can be the worst dish in
"Yes, I see. I also see that I need your
wisdom in my court. I’ll get someone else to do the
Being awake literally means that we take
care of ourselves through the five external senses,
hearing, seeing, tasting, touch, smelling. We often
falter in their use. Either we use them for our own
pleasure or we use them to target someone who is against
us. Our sins often are committed through our five senses
in the first place, and then we commit them in our
heart. If we can apply the wisdom of this little story
to all the senses and to our entire being, I am sure we
would be doing the right thing expecting our Saviour in
our hearts for Christmas.
Recently, Vatican forgave John Lenon on
23rd November this year. He is one of the
members of the Beatles group. He had claimed that the
Beatles group was greater than Jesus Christ. Now they
have come to know that they are nothing in comparison
with Christ. Jesus did not organize concerts; he was
just like a man like me and you. He came to save us all.
Never did he work for his own popularity.
Today's readings touch upon a number of
spiritual issues. They reveal to us that God is
faithful, His Word being unchanging. They teach us the
end result of righteousness. They tell us that although
we presently dwell in our present sinful physical bodies
that seek to oppose what is spiritual, we can still be
blameless before God on the day of our Lord Jesus
Christ. These are all very powerful statements that
deserve to be reviewed so that they may be understood.
But for those who turn their hearts away
from the Lord, God treats them as children, disciplining
them as a loving Father. [Heb. 12:8] Allowing all to
enjoy their free will, the Lord permits them for some
time to stray away from His ways, hardening their hearts
so that they do not fear Him.
When some deliberately turn to sin, the Lord is angry.
He hides Himself from them because they are like filthy
cloths. Like a leaf, the sinners are taken away by the
wind to fade away at a distance. Having turned from the
ways of the Lord, no longer calling on His Holy Name,
the sinners are left to their own iniquities.
Jesus said to keep awake, in the evening,
or at midnight, or at the cockcrow, or at dawn. By this,
He meant to be spiritually active and consistent. Do not
take a break in your spiritual lives to relapse into
sin. For that sinful moment may be the moment when you
will be called and judged according to the actions of
your heart at the moment of physical death.
Consider it similar to when you buy a house and have to
make monthly payments. What happens if you miss a
monthly payment? You lose your house! In His infinite
grace, God patiently awaits for all to live according to
His Holy ways, not suddenly calling everyone who misses
on a payment. If He did so, He would not have any
children left because we are all sinners, weak in the
Keep awake, means that we become
conscious of ourselves. We need from time to time remind
ourselves of the dangers that are around us. Just things
happen. Some one dies of road accident, perhaps he/she
never thought of it. Keeping awake in these times of
uncertainty is necessary.
often when I hear talk about Christ's coming, it is
presented as though it is something to fear. Images of
death, guilt and sinfulness leading to the awesome
Judgement throne of a righteous God come to mind.
Perhaps we very naturally think of it in terms of the
days of our life having come to an end and the eternal
night about to fall. But Paul's image is reversed. It is
not the day that is about over - nor is it the darkness
and evil of night that approaches. Rather, it is the
night that is
over and the dawn will come with a glorious day ahead.
Are you sleeping yet? Wake up - walk with Christ - for
the glorious day of the Lord is coming.
It reminds me of a favorite story. There
was a young deacon that had recently entered the
ministry and was trying hard to develop a style of
preaching without notes that he liked. He had worked
hard on preparing his Advent sermon and the time had
come for delivering it. But shortly after he began he
found that he had forgotten what he was planning to say.
He knew that the main point was to emphasis that Christ
was coming soon, so he decided that he would just repeat
that line in hopes that it would stir his memory. So he
said; “He is coming so.” But it didn’t help - so he
tried again; “He is coming soon!!!” Nothing. So after a
dramatic pause he tried again - but this time he put his
all into it, slapping his hands down on the pulpit and
really leaning into it. “HE IS COMING SOON!!”
Unfortunately, the pulpit was old and a little weak in
some spots and it broke free and the deacon was thrown
forward into the front pew right into the lap of one of
the members sitting there. The deacon picked himself up
and apologized to the woman. But she simply said: “Oh,
it’s my own fault. I should have moved back right away.
After all you told us three times that you were coming
I guess for most of us there have been
times in our lives when we have wanted to stay awake all
night. It might be because we wanted to read or study,
maybe because we were excited about something happening
the next day or because we were on a long journey and
travelling at night was more convenient, maybe because
we had to work. Whatever the reason it was sufficiently
necessary or interesting to keep us wake. Yet as the
night drew on tiredness sets in and often we awaken in
the morning with a book fallen to the floor or if
driving need to pull over and sleep. I have not worked
at night very often but I found the hardest time was 3-4
am when my eyes wanted to close and concentration was at
I am sure we all remember the parable
Jesus told about the 10 virgins, five of whom were wise
and five who were foolish. All of them fell asleep
waiting for the bridegroom to arrive. Though they all
fell asleep the wise had at least prepared for the
bridegroom coming, they had tried to remain alert and
prepared before sleep (or death) overwhelmed them.
Now our primary goal in life must be to
keep our eyes firmly fixed upon God’s Kingdom and the
things that we so dearly believe in. Indeed he cry
shall very soon come, as stated in the parable of the 10
"Here is the bridegroom come out to meet
Now Jesus said that upon his return, the
angels would go out to gather the elect from the four
corners of the earth. What will our reaction will be
then? Will we be alert and prepared? Shall we have
thoughts of this life and what we are leaving behind, or
shall we go with fear, yet joyful anticipation at the
prospect of seeing our Lord at last.
Let us daily fix our eyes upon his coming
Kingdom, for it will generate zeal to stay alert and
striving to develop a character pleasing to the Lord
Jesus. It has been a long night, the ‘bridegroom’ has
tarried long and it is now almost dawn. It is well
worth just considering and meditating upon what us to
come to help us remain awake. Our Master will
come, our hope is certain; as we read "Your eyes will
see the King in his beauty and view a land that
stretches far" Isaiah 33:17. At that time there will at
last be peace when the earth is ruled by a righteous
King, God's righteous and just law going forth from
Jerusalem. We read that:
“In the last days the mountain of the
LORD's temple will be established as chief among the
mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and
peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and
say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to
the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his
ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go
out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He
will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes
for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their
swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning
hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor
will they train for war any more. Every man will sit
under his own vine and under his own fig-tree, and
no-one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has
spoken. All the nations may walk in the name of their
gods; we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for
ever and ever.” Micah 4:1-5.