Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Representing Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers, Maryknoll Sisters, and Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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First Sunday of Advent

Nov 27, 2016
Isaiah 2: 1-5; Psalms 122; Romans 13: 11-14; Matthew 24: 37-44
Prepared by:
Sister Jeanne Houlihan

The season of autumn makes way for the season of winter. Darkness descends and days are shorter. In our awareness of nature’s darkness, we go deeper within ourselves and rest in the Indwelling  God.  Can we be attentive to God’s voice within us?  This indwelling quickens our response to “Let us climb God’s mountain.”  

Nature’s darkness calls us to a deeper, inner resting in the presence of God.  The Communion of Saints, living and dead, are welcome companions. They support our efforts to throw off the darkness of evil. Greed, Power, Hatred have demanding agendas throughout our struggling world. 

AS we climb we hear the words “Are we awake?’ Over the many years that I taught teenage girls, I knew they were physically awake but would they respond to “Are we awake?” In one class during the Advent season we were exploring the meaning of the word Emmanuel. The answers from the twelve year olds were very good from this group of diverse believers: Protestants, Muslims, Folk Religion and Catholics. Just when I thought we could move on, a hand rose in the air, there was to be one more comment. She said, ‘‘When you come into the classroom you are full of joy – that is the meaning of Emmanuel.” I was truly humbled and surprised at her comment. I will never forget those words. My heart leapt with inner peace that God was with us.  We were not only physically awake but also able at the moment to say “We are awake.”

Can we respond to Isaiah’s words and allow God to be the instructor to light the path that is chosen not by us but by the One who loves unconditionally? God calls us to give up the individualistic ego that demands “me first and I am right.” 

We know drought here and abroad. We know that the climate change is effecting people who are losing their homes and farms; yet some persist there is no problem.  Then there is the constant lure for more material goods. The latest cellphone app, the newest style of sports shoes, waiting for our hearts to say yes or no. Awake to the temptations of advertisements we can say “no” we do not need these products.  

It is easier to utter “no” when we see the photos of children traumatized by war, uprooted from their homes and hungry for food and normalcy. What would one “no” mean to one child? Multiply this one “no” by thousands of Christians and Catholics and other faith believers saying and living “no”. This is Noah listening to the inner voice and his clan getting into the ark without knowing the flood was coming. 

This is the beginning of an evolution for casting out darkness as the prophet greets us on the First Sunday of Advent. Are we awake?

Photo: Sunset in Hong Kong. Photo in the public domain via