Reflection for Sunday, November 28, 1999: 1st week in Advent.

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Gillick, Larry, S.J.
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We, here in this country, are celebrating Thanksgiving weekend during which we have recalled the good things of God to our lands and families. It is a wonderful time also to look forward with this beginning of an Adventing.||Our first reading is long and has within it both the boasting of gratitude and the heaviness of guilt. There is the proclamation that we belong to God and we are the Potter's clay, but also we have been inattentive, rebellious and hard-hearted. This Sunday after Thanksgiving begins a serious reflection then upon our relationship with this God Who does not give up on us, but Whom we can ignore, being surrounded by such gifts, that perhaps we find ourselves saying, "Keep it up, God, and we will be back to check in with You later."|Paul, in the second reading, extends the theme of gratitude by giving thanks to God for the many blessings given to the members of the early church community. "God is faithful, and by him you were called into fellowship with His son, Jesus Christ our Lord." Paul knows well the frailty of these members and will outline in detail their need for reform, but here He is giving thanks for them and for us who are also called.|The gospel is very simple in its statement, but perhaps not so simple in its implications. "Watch!"|We are now but a few weeks from the turn of the century according to conventional calendars. There are preparations, by some, for the final coming of something or some supreme being. There are going to be fears that Y2K will be something terrible. This gospel reading could heighten these fears. We do not know when the end is coming and will the end be the final end or a beginning. "May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping." This does sound like a warning and something frightening.|When I was a child, each Saturday night after Thanksgiving, there was the annual civic-celebration of the coming of Santa. It seemed that everybody in the world was lined up on both sides of the street waiting and waiting. On one occasion I was absolutely sure that we were waiting on the wrong street. I didn't want to say anything to disturb my parents and siblings, so I did the brave deed. I bolted out into the middle of the street and put my ear to the streetcar track as I had seen in the movies. I was serious, but it got a great laugh, except from my parents. Waiting increased in me a sense that we had done wrong things, or were all in the wrong place or that we all had been tricked.|This Advent season and these readings for today's liturgy, are meant to call us to the awareness of where we are in relationship to God's call, God's gifts and our response. We are invited to listen more deeply for His coming in our lives. It is so easy to assume that we are not in the right place for His coming. Here is the wonderful thing about this ever-coming God. If we are at the wrong street, this God will ever come down the street where we are. Our Santa road upon highly-decorated streetcars linked together, but he could go only along those specific tracks. This Adventuring God follows our tracks and if we are sleeping or inattentive, this God waits for us.|"Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down." This mysterious "You" has come down and this "You" waits for us to be awake and receptive enough to hear and eventually see the many persons, streets, paths, halls through which the Lord Jesus chooses to come into our lives. Our Advent is also God's Advent, a season of waking up and not being afraid of any new day or week or year or century; every day is the same to God. Every day is only new to us and the Good Lord has one more day to do the old ancient of things, loving us into grateful lives. As with God who always comes if we be patient, Santa did come along that long-ago-Saturday night and nobody was more grateful for his arrival and ashamed of being doubtful, than my impatient self.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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