In Advent, we celebrate our hope that the Lord might come more fully into our lives. The first reading from Isaiah voices the hope of sinners for a redeemer. As sinners, we too hope for forgiveness. Unlike Isaiah, we know that God has come to bring us back, when the Father sent his Son, Jesus, to save us. And God’s power was manifest in the raising of Christ from the dead. Our faith in Jesus leads us to a new way of looking at the world. We can see what God is doing as well as remembering what God has done.
The Gospel reminds us to look constantly for signs of God’s work. Jesus says simply, “Watch!” Like the gatekeepers in Jesus’ short parable, we need to keep our eyes open for him. Just as we expect people driving cars to turn off their cell phones and keep their eyes on the road, so we can stop looking for whatever makes us comfortable and watch for ways to love others as God loves us.
When we only look out for ourselves, we may miss the signs of God’s presence around us. Instead of looking at the difficulties of life as obstacles, we can watch for them as opportunities to stretch our faith, to rely on God, or to show God’s love to a friend.
The Corinthians were also watching for the Lord to come. Paul encourages them (and us) by his reminder that we “are not lacking in any spiritual gift” (1 Corinthians 1:7). The Holy Spirit gives us all we need to help each other prepare for the Lord’s coming. They were thinking of Jesus as coming in glory. Though we don’t see the full glory of the Lord, part of that glory is his presence in the sacraments. In them we celebrate not just the coming of the Lord, but his working in the world. He shares his life with us in baptism, gives us his Spirit in confirmation and himself in the Eucharist, heals us in reconciliation and the anointing of the sick, and calls us to make him present to others in holy orders and matrimony. You could almost say his second coming is taking place now. Watch for it.