Today’s readings, however, remind us that this getting ready is not simply a matter of holiday shopping, social gatherings, or even choir rehearsal, for when we see God face to face in the full perfection of his love, all of our imperfections will become painfully clear.
As the Prophet Isaiah says in today’s first reading (Isaiah 63:16b-17,19b; 64:2-7):
Would that you might meet us doing right,
that we were mindful of you in our ways!
Our Lord gives the flip side to this sentiment in today’s Gospel (Mark 13:33-37):
May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.
The truth is that many of us, to some extent, are indeed sleepwalking through our lives, especially our spiritual lives, and we are not headed in the best direction. We therefore resonate very much with Isaiah’s lament.
Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways,
and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?
The wandering, of course, is our own fault – not God’s.
However, in Advent, God gives us an opportunity to get fully ready for him: to look at our lives, to look at our ways, to clean up the areas of our lives that need cleaning up, and to redirect ourselves along the ways of the Lord.
Fortunately, he does not leave us alone in this effort
Yet, O LORD, you are our father;
we are the clay and you the potter:
we are all the work of your hands.
God is at work in us by his grace – all we need do is to let go of our sinfulness, our selfishness, and our pride and to let ourselves be totally open and devoted to God’s grace and truth.
Then, we will no longer resonate with the lament of Isaiah in today’s first reading, but with the jubilation of St. Paul in today’s second reading (1 Corinthians 1:3-9):
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
as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He will keep you firm to the end,
irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.