Reflections on Sunday Readings    

Be Watchful, be Ready and be Prepared to
Welcome Christ our Master

Reflections by
Fr. Ashok Stephen, OMI

My dear parishioners, today is the 1st Sunday of Advent and the beginning of the new liturgical year B-2024. The overall emphasis of the season of Advent each year is to remind us of the need to be spiritually prepared to welcome Christ Who wants even now to be born anew in our hearts. But theologically, the first part of Advent (until Gaudete Sunday) invites us to be mindful of the 2nd coming of Christ (Parousia). Thereafter, the later part of Advent invites us to prepare ourselves to celebrate the feast of the Jesus' birth at His 1st coming on Christmas Day.

The Gospel of Saint Mark on this 1st Sunday of Advent tells us the importance of being watchful and waiting until our Master returns home after His long journey. Saint Mark reminds us that we all are His servants who should be ready to welcome our Master no matter at what hour He returns. Therefore my dear friends, the 3 major themes which we can draw out of the readings of this 1st Sunday of Advent are, Be watchful, be ready and be prepared to welcome our Master. Today's Gospel ends with the word "watch": it is a clear invitation to us that we must take serious note of and prepare ourselves for this all important moment.

My dear brothers and sisters, our daily lives are full of unpredictable events, both tragic and joyful. It is not for us to know the times or the places when or where we will have to face them or encounter Christ through these events. Therefore, it is very important that we live in a state of readiness—through our daily actions, words, and thoughts—to encounter Christ, Who could come to us at any moment. We must be spiritually tough to keep our cool and handle any situation, be it joyful or tragic, and not to get into either ecstasy or grief.

Let us also be careful not to become spiritually complacent and find ourselves sleepy when we need to be super-alert to encounter Our Master. This spiritual indifference could come to us by focusing our attention too much on worldly matters like politics, business and other materialistic affairs. Let us take a "spiritual time out" during this season of Advent and see how best we have spiritually handled ourselves last year, and thereby make a firm decision to be the best version of ourselves this year. Let the birth of Jesus strengthen all of us to be born anew and start a New, Mature, Holy and Fruitful life in this new liturgical year.

Last Update: December 3, 2023