What? You may be wondering why I'm so early wishing you a Happy New Year.
Because today is the first Sunday of Advent, marking the beginning of our liturgical year. Today begins a new year of the Church calendar. This Sunday we notice that the priest's vestments are purple, which symbolize a penitential spirit as we begin to put away all worldly distractions and ready ourselves for the coming of our Savior on Christmas day. The purple color also represents royalty, as we remember that Jesus is Lord of Lords and King of Kings. How appropriate that last Sunday we closed the liturgical year with the Feast of Christ the King. Now we as we begin the season of Advent, we place our focus on the coming of Jesus, both in the historical sense but also in the present sense. Our readings for this Sunday reflect that.
First we read in Isaiah verses 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7, the lament of His people who continually go astray, begging for Him not to leave them but to return. Isaiah speaks of the sinfulness of the people contrasted with the goodness of God's providence and mercy. Through the prophet Isaiah, we are reminded that God is the potter, and we are the clay. He shapes us through our experiences. Even in the times when we are sinful and turn away from Him, He is there and ready to help us turn back to Him if we only cry out and acknowledge our need for Him.
Then, in the Gospel reading, we hear Jesus tell His disciples, "Be watchful! Be alert!" He tells them to not let the Lord of the house return and find them sleeping. He exhorts again, "Watch!" This was a stark warning for them and for us. Jesus put emphasis on being vigilant and always ready. Jesus is telling them this parable of the gatekeeper and the watchman as a way to explain the need for people to prepare for His Second Coming. Each Sunday at Mass we recite these words of the Apostle's Creed, "He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end." Let us not be caught "sleeping" on the job, so that when Jesus returns, He finds us alert and watchful.
I'm using Magnificat for my daily meditations during Advent. This is a wonderful publication which includes morning and evening prayers, daily Mass readings, the Saint of the Day, and a daily meditation. It is an excellent way to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of our Savior.