In Isaiah 63:1, 11, 13, 15 and 17, the prophet asks God series of questions intended to motivate God to take action in saving His people. In verses 11-13, Isaiah asks where is the God who saved His people in the past, and recounts the way God worked to save His people in the Exodus liberation in the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, leading them like a shepherd guiding His flock, and tending to them on every step of their journey (Ex 14:19-31). The Prophet Isaiah speaks of how God’s chosen people in their distress at the destruction of Jerusalem, recall the past kindness of Yahweh. Recognizing their own sinfulness, they call on God acknowledging that they do not merit His grace and forgiveness.
The Psalmist pleads to God for help, with a promise that we will never again forsake God - God of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved. Of course, if the face of the Lord is to shine once again, Israel must be converted through fidelity and prayer to God Our Savior.
In the 2nd reading St. Paul gives thanks for all the gifts God has blessed the Corinthians with. Paul gives thanks to God for what God has done and what God will ultimately do for His children. Paul’s community was using their gifts to destroy their community instead of building it up. Paul thanks God for their spiritual gifts and not so much for the use of their gifts. Every Christian, regardless of his or her spiritual maturity, has been given at least one spiritual gift. 1 Cor 12:8-10- Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Healing, Miracles, Prophecy, Discernment of Spirits, Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues.
The words of Jesus in the Gospel express the mood of this early part of the Advent season, “Be on your guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come.” (Mark 13:33). The background of the parable in today’s Gospel - Absentee land-owners and wayfaring masters were a common thing in Jesus' time. The owners of large properties often lived elsewhere, leaving servants in charge of caring for and carrying on business as if the owners were still present. This kind of situation would be a test for the servants left in charge. Would they be faithful day by day, or would they wait until they heard the master was about to return and then quickly get things in order? The trouble was that often they didn’t know when the land-owner would return. The absence of the master was a test.
When Paul and Mark spoke about the things to come, it was only to remind their readers that their present behavior wasn’t measuring up to what Christ’s second coming demanded. Is your present behavior measuring up to what Christ’s 2nd Coming demands?
For those of us who are finding these times difficult for one reason or another, the message of Advent is
“Wait for God in patient hope.” God has not abandoned us; God is with us though sometimes our lack of faith prevents us from seeing him. Wait in patient hope for God to fulfill his plans in his own way in his own time. Remember Jesus in the Gospel advising never to give up waiting. Remember Paul, that during this time of waiting, we are equipped with the gifts of the Spirit; Remember Jesus in the womb of Mary for nine months; Mary could not see Jesus but she knew that the ‘Word was made flesh’ and she was waiting in hope for his birth.