These were written by Michael Dubruiel many years ago.
First Sunday of Advent
My memories of growing up in New England are filled with examples of what ideally we all might do if we were to celebrate Advent in response to Jesus' admonition in the Gospel of Mark. Gathering on the Sunday after Thanksgiving for the lighting of the village Christmas Crèche, caroling throughout the streets of the small town, and the general mood of good cheer that permeated the cold wintry landscape warms me even now. Everyone seemed to make an extra effort to notice everyone else.
What does this have to do with the readings you ask?
Jesus tells his disciples to "watch," to be alert, for they do not know when the time will come. Last Sunday we had the end portrayed and indeed the gathered people (the sheep and goats) are surprised that they had already either helped the Lord or refused him when they had reached out to those in need. If we are truly vigilant we will greet everyone we meet today as though it could be the Lord himself coming into our midst.
There are no unimportant visitors for the Christian. Advent is a time of expectation of the Lord's coming, not on our terms but in whatever way He chooses to come to us today. Be vigilant!
The way we celebrated before Christmas when I was growing up seemed to capture this spirit, people genuinely became other focused. If we truly believe that the Lord might be lurking in the stranger that we meet how might we treat Him differently. The Lord commands us to "Watch!" There is no better way to celebrate Advent than this intense watching, vigilance for the unexpected arrival.
Monday of the First Week of Advent
We say the words of the Centurion before communion everytime we go to Mass but do we really mean it? "Lord, I am not worthy..."
Most of us probably think there are times when we aren't worthy but plenty of other times that we are. The truth is that we are never worthy. The more we can foster that notion the less likely we are to sit in judgment of others, the less likely we are to ever think we know better than God.
If we are to truly look forward to the coming of Christ we have to foster within us a deep sense of our own unworthiness that creates space for Christ to enter into our lives. The Centurion realized that a mere word from the savior could save his servant. In faith we should open the Scriptures with the same belief and expectation.