12.3.17 Sun. wk. 1 – Advent – B
1st Reading Isaiah 63: 16b – 17, 19b; 64: 2 – 7
Corinthians 1: 3 – 9
Gospel – Mark 13: 33 – 37
Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Homily: Fr. Mike Murphy Our work that is Pleasing to God.
At the time of Jesus it was not unusual for wealthy landowners to leave their estates in the hands of their trustworthy servants. They expected loyalty and hard work from their servants and they would reward them accordingly. Now in the Gospel, Jesus says to His disciples: “The man traveling abroad leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work.”
When Jesus ascended into heaven, this was the mission that He left to His disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” St. Gregory the Great in the sixth century observed: “When, by giving His faithful ones the Grace of the Holy Spirit, Jesus gave them the power of serving every great work.”
Well, we are the 21st century disciples of Jesus and we have been given grace for completing our part in the Mission begun by Jesus. Each of us has our own work, as Jesus is observed in this parable, our own work to do for Jesus.
So how’s that going for you? How are you doing that work?
Do you even know what it is? We are meant to bring Christ into the lives of others – that is our work. How are we doing that? How are we making disciples of others? Advent reminds us that we are living in the end times. Now the end times began with the first coming of Jesus on that first Christmas. That’s when the end times began: “When the Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us.” The end times culminate in the second coming of Jesus on the Day of Judgment. So when we stand before the Lord, on that Day of Judgment, how will we account for the many gifts and graces given to us, the work we have been called to do by Jesus? What will we say when we stand before the Lord? The Lord expects us to make good use of the resources He has given to us, gifts for His glory and honor, for the benefit of helping and blessing others. The Lord has given each of us work to do, the work of faith, love and kindness, the work of compassion, mercy, and generosity, by serving our families, our neighbors, our community. That’s the work, to bring Jesus into the world, just as Mary did on that first Christmas Day when she gave birth to the Son of God.
Jesus tells His disciples in the Gospel: “To watch.” Now He doesn’t mean it in the way of ‘just wait and see what happens.’ That’s not what ‘watch’ means, to just take a passive stance to our faith and mission. The Lord calls us to vigilance that His Kingdom may come; that His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. We are not to watch for Christ, we are to watch with Christ. That’s the mission, that’s the work.
Again, the question: “How are you doing with all that?
How are you doing with the work entrusted to you? I’m sure that some of us are struggling with that. Perhaps we have not given this work much thought or attention because the busyness of our lives tends to distract us. Raising a family, working hard, trying to make ends meet and we tend to be distracted from the work we have been given to do by Jesus. Before this guilt turns to worry – we can hear this good news. Advent presents us with the opportunity to start all over again. That’s the beauty of what we believe Jesus called us to do. If we have messed up – if we have delayed, He says: “O alright, start now. Start now with a clean slate. Start all over again.”
Maybe you have noticed how dry and routine your life and prayer are. Maybe you just think you’re too old to begin the work of Jesus, there’s too much water under the bridge. No! We have to keep working at it because we don’t know when that moment will come when we will accomplish what the Lord asks of us. So Jesus is calling us all to begin today. Come to Him just as you are. Come with all your miseries and weaknesses, all of your warts and wrinkles. Just come to Him, now. That’s what He is calling us to.
St. Paul reminds us: “I have the strength for everything through Him, who empowers me. So all things are possible with God. In our sacred second reading St. Paul declares: “In Him you are enriched in every way. You are not lacking in any spiritual gift.” And we can find hope entrusting that God will give us what we need to complete the mission, the grace to complete the work of Jesus. All of us are here for a reason. Until our last breath, the Spirit will bless us with what is needed to complete the work that Jesus has given to us. This is our hope, it is founded on trust in the promise of Jesus: “I am with you always until the end of the age.” That’s what He promised.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit .