Isaiah 63:16-17, 19; 64:2-7
You, LORD, are our father,
our redeemer you are named forever.
Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways,
and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?
Return for the sake of your servants,
the tribes of your heritage.
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
with the mountains quaking before you,
while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for,
such as they had not heard of from of old.
No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you
doing such deeds for those who wait for him.
Would that you might meet us doing right,
that we were mindful of you in our ways!
Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful;
all of us have become like unclean people,
all our good deeds are like polluted rags;
we have all withered like leaves,
and our guilt carries us away like the wind.
There is none who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to cling to you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and have delivered us up to our guilt.
Yet, O LORD, you are our father;
we are the clay and you the potter:
we are all the work of your hands.
Psalm 80:1-2, 14-15, 17-18
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim,
Stir up your might,
and come to save us!
Turn again, O God of hosts;
look down from heaven, and see;
have regard for this vine,
the stock that your right hand planted.
But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,
the one whom you made strong for yourself.
Then we will never turn back from you;
give us life, and we will call on your name.
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you—so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”
The scriptures tell us to be awake and alert at all times for the Lord to come. But have you ever tried to stay awake? It doesn’t always work out very well.
What are the things that make us stay awake? Fear will keep us vigilant as when we wait for a loved one who is late or when we face a job interview or other important performance the next day. Love will also keep us awake as when we first fall in love, get engaged or are being married. The feeling of love for a new baby after giving birth will also make it very hard for a new mother or father to sleep. If we think of those things in the spiritual life, we can help ourselves be alert and ready for when the Lord comes too.
Fear of the Lord is a healthy thing that really means the right attitude of respect for Almighty God. It encompasses awe and the fear of offending God. It will keep us sure that we examine our conscience and take time to pray to God and ask for forgiveness each day. It will cause us to reconcile with others and refrain from judging them harshly least we too be judged.
Love is more than an emotion when it comes to God. It is the wholehearted commitment to fidelity to act in a way that is pleasing to God or in a way that will delight Him. It will make us work tirelessly for God and lead others to love God as well.
If we have love and the fear of the Lord, we can be sure we will be ready for Him to come again. But as in the Isaiah reading, we must know that we need help to stay in this state of wakefulness and not to degrade into sleepiness or slothfulness. God will mold us and form us so long as we do our part to wait on Him, fear Him and love Him.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I ask that I may receive all the graces you have in store for me this Advent. As I prepare for your coming, make my heart more pleasing to you in respect and single-mindedness. Help me to remain always faithful to you and to obey your Word. Amen