Engaging the Gospel – First Sunday of Advent

First Sunday of Advent (Year B): Gospel – Mark 13:33-37

As we ring in the new Church year, the Gospel continues the theme of vigilantly anticipating the Lord’s coming.

During this season of Advent, we prepare in a special way for our celebration of Christ’s birth, while remembering that He comes to us on multiple levels.

“God is the ‘One who comes,’” as St. John Paul II reminds us:

He came among us in the person of Jesus Christ; He comes again in the Church’s sacraments and in every human being who asks our help; He will come in glory at the end of time. This is why Advent is marked by watchful and active expectation.

Angelus of November 28, 1999.

Therefore Jesus not only “calls His hearers to conversion and faith, but also to watchfulness” (Catechism paragraph 2612), and He “urges us to vigilance of the heart in communion with His own” (2849).

This encouragement to be vigilant serves as an important antidote to a variety of human weaknesses, for it is easy to become indifferent, lukewarm, or even ungrateful to God (2094).

Such spiritual laziness is called acedia, which includes “lax ascetical practice, decreasing vigilance, carelessness of the heart” (2733). In contrast, “vigilance is custody of the heart…The Holy Spirit constantly seeks to awaken us to keep watch” (2849).

Prayer is essential to this spirit of vigilance: “In prayer the disciple keeps watch, attentive to Him Who Is and Him Who Comes…only by keeping watch in prayer can one avoid falling into temptation” (2612).

Question for reflection: How do I respond to the Lord’s call to vigilance?

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