Tear open the heavens

We transition today into a new liturgical year. What is unusual about this new season of Advent is that the themes of the readings that we have been hearing during the last few weeks continue as we move from ordinary time into the new season. It is the only time during the liturgical year that there is a carry-over from one season into the next (except for a connection from Lent into Easter, but even that is not as strong as what we have heard during these weeks).

If we didn’t have the stories about the birth of Jesus, all we would lose are a few chapters from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. As we see so clearly in the writings of Paul, you can tell the Christian story of grace and redemption with no other detail about the life of Jesus than that he was born of a woman (Gal 4:4). But if we were to attempt to jettison the themes that we will explore during the season of Advent, we will lose most of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. For what we express during these days is a profound sense of longing for God to come and to be part of our lives.

Humans since the days of the garden have felt this longing for God to make sense of the world and all the dysfunction and suffering that we experience. We want God to move in our world. Part of our experience is that the way things are now with all of the loss of the sacred / divine / God / higher power is not enough. The prophet Isaiah taps into this with his prayer of repentance as he boldly declares his longing for God to break through the veil that separates us from God and to be present and active in our world.

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Sunday Advent 1, Year B. Isaiah 63:16-19; 64:1-8; Psalm 80:2-3,15-16,18-19; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37.

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