1st Sunday of Advent
Year B

The work of Your hands

Pygmalion, the sculptor, is one of the most famous characters in the myths of ancient Greece. Because be could not find any woman that measured up to his ideal of womanhood, he decided not to marry. Instead, he undertook to carve a statue of a woman that fulfilled his dreams.

The statue that he carved was outstandingly beautiful. He treated it as if it were real, dressing it in the loveliest clothing, decorating it with jewelry of gold and precious stones. Next time he visited the temple of Venus, the goddess of love, he timidly prayed that she give him a wife "like my statue." Venus took note of the prayer. When Pygmalion returned home and kissed his beautiful statue, it came to life. Taking the name Galatea, she accepted Pygmalion's hand in marriage. Fact is even more wonderful than fiction. God the creator is the divine sculptor. He shaped each one of us, and then fell in love with those whom he had made

"…O Lord, you are our Father, we are the clay and you are the potter; we are all the work of Your hands." (Isaiah 64:7. Today's first reading).

-Father Robert F. McNamara

Q347: We have been waiting a long time for Messiah to come a second time. How can we maintain ‘vigilance’ for so long?

Today’s gospel (Mk 13:33-37) finds Jesus urging his disciples to “Be constantly on the watch! Stay awake!” The master is going to be physically absent for a long time, and he wants every single one of his servants to be faithful to the task he has assigned to each of them. No one knows when the master will return, so the advice to them, in effect, is to live each day as if the master will return any moment.

We have all heard stories about elderly parents or grandparents, sitting by their window, patiently watching and waiting and hoping for a visit from a family member or friend. Perhaps you have experienced those lonesome times yourself, and the joy that fills your heart when a loved one appears. On the other hand, perhaps you have been one who was lax and neglected to make visits when you were able. I am reminded of something I believe Mark Twain is supposed to have said: “As we get older, we are not so much concerned about the things we did, as we are about the things we neglected to do.” Have we been faithful?

There is a sense of great peace on the part of those who have been faithful in following the absent master’s wishes, even when they are mistreated or neglected. Peace and joy come when you diligently maintain a ‘vigilant heart’ against the temptations of the world. This can only occur if one engages in prayer. Jesus himself vanquished the tempter in his lifetime through prayer, and he asks us to do the same.

KNOW YOUR CATECHISM! Temptation is an attraction to act contrary to the will of God (CCC Glossary), and even Jesus was confronted with such attractions (CCC #538). Only the vigilance of a prayerful heart will enable us to overcome temptations and be ready when the Master returns (CCC #2849). In Advent we need to renew our efforts to pray as we renew our burning desire for his second coming (CCC #524).

Wait Watch, Work

The liturgical year begins by directing our attention to endings and new beginnings. The church recognizes that the central experience of all humans is one of transitions and progress, from past through the present to the future. It is an experience that takes place in time, and is a gift over which we have no control. Hence the liturgy speaks of what God has done in the past to encourage us to hope and work in the present for the final coming of the Lord to finish what he has begun. Isaiah reminds the people of Israel of God's mercies in the past, encouraging them to prepare for God's coming to complete the work of rebuilding Jerusalem. St. Paul reminds the Corinthians that the abundant spiritual gifts were given to prepare the way for Christ's Second Coming in glory. Mark's Gospel comes to grips with the apparent delay in Christ's coming, which disturbed many early Christians. Mark tells them He will come! Meanwhile we must work while waiting. Each of the servants was given a particular task to work at while awaiting the master's return.

Lord, we have experienced your loving care in the past and we treasure the gifts you have given us. Help us to remember your love and guide us to use your gifts to prepare for the coming of your kingdoms. May we contribute even in a little way to preparing the way of the Lord.