(For the audio version of this blog, please visit: https://brothersinchristcmf.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/Mass-Blog-for-the-First-Sunday-of-Advent-2023.mp3)
Many of us use an Advent-house calendar to prepare, day-by-day, for Christmas. Its 25 doors typically contain scripture readings or meditations to put us in the mind of God. But this First Sunday of Advent’s three readings can help us imagine a three-room Advent House to help put God back in our mind—for keeps.
Imagine the first reading from Isaiah depicting a windowless room representing our past Ignorance of God’s presence among us—or even ignorance of our need for that presence. The atmosphere Isaiah’s Old Testament text describes may seem familiar, as it feels as godless as our modern times. (IS 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7)
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.
The second reading from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (1 COR 1:3-9) might be represented in our calendar much as the first of the three rooms in our Advent House is—windowless—but this time with a mirror in it. This second room, with Paul’s help, lets us imagine God in human form—looking amazingly like us, to help us anticipate God’s personal gift to us—custom-designed to our spiritual needs.
I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift.
The third room of our house represents the danger of a return to our Ignorance of God’s presence in our lives— and the resulting complacency that mirrors 21st century godlessness. This room replaces the second room’s mirror with a window to the outside world, representing our opportunity to open it and escape this house and find God among our neighbors. This room comes equipped with God’s personal instructions for finding Him, and it requires we use the window as an exit only—so God can catch us out in the world, interacting lovingly with humanity as Jesus did. The instructions for such activity are detailed in the gospels (a portable version of which is also provided in this room). That means we have no excuse for inaction, as we did in the room Isaiah was struggling to open wide for us.
Just don’t expect another calendar beside this one. As Jesus tells us via the section of Mark’s gospel we open this Sunday,
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. (MK 13:33-37)
There’s no space for a bed in this room!