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The Work of His Hands


“The essential meaning of the word ‘adventus’ was: God is here, he has not withdrawn from the world, he has not deserted us. Even if we cannot see and touch him as we can tangible realities, he is here and comes to visit us in many.” ~ Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

On this the 1st Sunday of Advent, the perpetually upbeat prophet Isaiah strikes a rare pessimistic tone in our 1st Reading (Isaiah 63:16-17, 64:2-7). One might even go so far as to say that he unloads on God, complains even. But I think of it as more of a lament, for although this otherwise obedient servant engages in a bit of “divine venting”, he approaches our Lord with faith and hope that He ~ and only He ~ can remedy an otherwise hopeless situation.

“Why do you let us wander, O Lord, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?” Isaiah asks in rhetorical fashion. “Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage.” In some respects, Isaiah echoes the sentiments of today’s Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 80) wherein the Psalmist essentially proclaims God, we need You to come and shepherd us. To be not only our God, but our earthly political leader as well; because our leaders are terrible.

“Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,” Isaiah exclaims, with a nod to Moses and his seminal moment on Mount Sinai, “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.” A call to a “new Exodus” would, for all intents and purposes, appear to be Isaiah’s desire. Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, would be God’s response to Isaiah. A “royal solution to a royal pain” to quote noted Biblical Scholar Dr. Timothy Gray.

The Church in her wisdom knows that a season is needed in order for us to prepare for the arrival of this King of Kings, and this Season of Advent affords us the opportunity to reflect upon and prepare for Jesus’ second coming as well We are, to once again quote Isaiah in the waning words of today’s 1st Reading, the clay in the hands of our Lord the potter. We are the work of his hands. When we come to Jesus with a repentant heart, we allow ourselves to be truly molded in His image. His birth in a manger would of course lead the way to His death on the cross, a death he suffered for our sins. In this one heroic, selfless and loving act, Jesus addresses the problem of sin. Until the problem of sin is addressed, every previous solution is merely a band-aid.

Despite everything that has happened this year, I urge you to joyfully enter into this Advent Season with a renewed sense of hope. “God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son” (1 Corinthians 1:9). This very fact is what the Advent Season is all about. This is indeed the reason for our hope

Perhaps today’s Collect Prayer can be our prayer this Advent Season, for it echos our Lord’s words throughout Scripture, perhaps most notably in the Parable of the 10 Virgins It proclaims “Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly Kingdom.” We will one day be judged by our righteous deeds. May we all have the resolve to meet the anointed one, the Messiah who has come in flesh and who is to one day come again.

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“O shepherd of Israel, hearken, from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth. Rouse your power,” and come to save us.” ~ Psalm 80:2-3

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