Mark is the Gospel featured at Mass in Year B of the three-year cycle of Sunday readings. Notable exceptions occur during Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and across five weeks in summer, when we hear the Bread of Life discourse from John. Mark is the shortest of the four Gospels. Mark was probably the first Gospel written. Parts of it appear in both Matthew and Luke, who also used other materials that do not appear in Mark. Because Mark included Jesus’ saying about the destruction of the Temple, a prediction fulfilled in the year 70, the date of composition is thought to be around then.READ MORE
Waiting can be the most difficult thing to endure, especially when you wonder if it will ever end. Whether waiting for a bus in the middle of winter or waiting to find out whether you will get that promotion you want, the stress can be overwhelming. The writer of this section of Isaiah knows what this is like. He wrote during the period in which God’s chosen people lived in exile. But he brings comfort and hope. He foresees a time when God will move mountains to prepare a way out of the desert. And God will do so tenderly, for “in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom” (Isaiah 40:11). The author of Second Peter wrote during another difficult time, about one hundred years after Jesus. Christians who believed that the Second Coming was imminent were losing faith. He reassured them that human understanding of time was not like God’s. In fact, our God is a patient God, giving time for people to be brought to repentance. God’s promise finds voice in John the Baptist “crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord’” (Mark 1:3). He is coming. We just need patience.
When have you lost patience while waiting? What helps you persevere while you wait?READ MORE
Advent is significantly shorter this year. Last year Advent began on November 27; this year it begins nearly a whole week later. It makes us even more anxious. We have less time to buy presents, write cards, bake cookies, decorate the home, prepare for gathering, and so on. The passage from Mark's Gospel we hear today warns us to be ready, but in a different sense. We are to be prepared, not in the sense of having presents wrapped and the tree trimmed, but prepared to receive Christ into our lives in a special way. The people of Isaiah's time were not prepared. They had turned away from God time and again. The prophet admonishes God's people, himself included, saying, "we have all withered like leaves," an image certainly appropriate to this season (Isaiah 34:5). But the passage closes with the assurance that God can mold us, as a potter works the clay. The Christian community in Corinth allowed this to happen and Saint Paul assures them that God "will keep you firm to the end," molding them, as it were, into a faithful people (1 Corinthians 1:8).
How have you allowed God to mold you? Are you firm in your faithfulness to God?READ MORE
An Advent wreath symbolizes our longing for the coming of Christ. The wreath is a circle of evergreen branches into which are set four candles. Traditionally, three candles are violet and one is rose, but four violet or four white candles may also be used. The wreath symbolizes many things. Evergreens signify God's enduring promise of redemption, evident like green branches in the midst of snow. The circle signifies our hope for the return of Christ, whose kingdom will have no end. The colors of the candles match the traditional colors of the vesture for the four Sundays of Advent. Violet garments signify our penitent hope for salvation. The rose color, which may be worn on Advent's Third Sunday, signals that the season is nearly over—joy is at hand!READ MORE