29 November 2014

WAITING… IN HOPE

I SUNDAY OF ADVENT
isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7; 1 corinthians 1:3-9; mark 13:33-37
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/113014.cfm

waiting is part of life. outside schools, parents wait to pick up their children. at bus stops and railway stations, people wait for their loved ones; in hospitals, patients wait for their families. all waiting for someone to come. all they can do is wait… in hope!
waiting is part of life. all of us waited to be born, waited to be nourished, waited to be loved. we learned, soon enough, that not everything is available «instant». and so we have to wait.

advent is a time and season of a more profound waiting… a waiting for GOD… to reveal himself; to come to us.
the first reading graphically portrays a people waiting for GOD. recently returned from captivity in babylon, they hope that GOD will again adopt them as his children. but jerusalem is a heap of ruins; there is no sign to confirm their hope.
the people remember what GOD did for them in the past: «you, LORD, are our father… no ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any GOD but you doing such deeds for those who wait for him.» this memory makes the people pray to GOD to come among them as he did on mount sinai. this memory gives the people hope as they wait.

the gospel and the second reading give us attitudes for this waiting period: be responsible and dutiful servants; stay awake to the signs of the kingdom around us and to the opportunities to serve others; stay firm to the end though GOD’s grace and gifts.

like the newly-returned exiles, we are between the first and second comings of JESUS; we sometimes feel anguish and frustration when GOD seems absent from our lives.
what is the attitude which characterizes my waiting: optimism or desolation? joy or anguish? hope-filled service or despairing passivity? what are the gifts GOD has given me? how can i use them as a responsible servant for the task he has given me?

an anecdote to end!
while on a south pole expedition, sir ernest shackleton left a few men on elephant island, and promised them he would return. each time he tried to return, huge icebergs blocked his way. one day, an avenue opened in the ice, and shackleton got through. his men, ready and waiting, quickly scrambled aboard. no sooner had the ship cleared the island than the ice crashed together behind them. shackleton said: «it was fortunate you were all packed and ready to go!» they replied: «we never gave up hope. whenever the sea was clear of ice, we rolled up our sleeping bags and said, ‘he may come today.’»

like shackelton’s men, may we be ready for the coming of the LORD; may we be alert to the signs of his presence everywhere: in every checkout counter, every bus/train station, every waiting room…