Well I never!? We are about to enter the eleventh year of publication. Is it possible that you faithful readers and reflectors do not stand in need of a change and different approach? If not, there is going to be real need for the Holy Spirit to exert strong influence that I do not start repeating myself. If I do, please let me know.

The icon for Year B, the year of Mark, is (as depicted on the cover of the printed versions) the Lion of Judah. Lions are an integral part to the understanding of Jewish kings, especially the kings of Judah. Mark’s version of the Gospel is, at the time of writing, primarily focused on Jewish readers. The evangelist seeks to emphasise that Jesus was the Messiah-King.

Lions were a symbol of courage and monarchy, and – at one time – were thought to sleep with their eyes open. Mark presents a Jesus who is both courageous and kingly. However, Jesus is an active messiah – never asleep, always on the go. This fact would explain why Mark does not record a great deal of what Jesus says but makes a concerted effort to tell us what Jesus

DOES! As one author comments: “this leaves us freer to enjoy the melody which is the Person and the action of Jesus.” Ultimately, for Mark, “Jesus is the love and wisdom of God expressed in human flesh.”

Remember all this in the coming year.

As always, the liturgical year begins with the season of Advent. Our need, as we look back on eleven months of the year, is succinctly expressed in the second stanza of

OUR PSALM [80 or 79]. “God of hosts, turn again … look down … visit this vine and protect it.” We say this because “in you, I have trusted; let me not be put to shame.” {see the ENTRANCE ANTIPHON}. However, the RESPONSE to our Psalm is important because all will acknowledge that we have, at times, been somewhat careless in our appreciation of “the melody which is the person and action of Jesus.” So we are able to cry out “God, bring us back; let your face shine on us, and we shall be saved.” As has been commented so often in the past, very often we need to be saved from ourselves, As we enter these pre-Christmas weeks we might well need to be saved from ourselves with some regularity?

Keep these quotations from this Sunday’s liturgy in mind as we reflect on the readings

.

In this context something from

TODAY’S GOSPEL [MARK 13: 33 – 37] jumps out: “take heed, watch and pray …. it is like a man going on a journey.” Advent, surely, is a journey? It should be a journey which experience teaches us has built-in hazards. If you live in my part of the country you will know that even the shortest journey on our local roads demands the avoidance of potholes. If you travel the route regularly, you will soon learn where to expect the need for‘preventive action’. You cannot afford to allow your guard to drop. In so many ways this could easily describe the road of Advent ….. and experience of past Advent weeks should remind us of the potholes to avoid. As our Gospel reading warns “lest he come suddenly …. find yourself asleep …. WATCH.”

Christmas has this dreadful habit of suddenly catching up with me before I know it! This year I must make it different.

SUNDAY’S OLD TESTAMENT READING [ISAIAH

63: 16d – 17; 64: 1. 3b – 8] provides us with a plan of action – provided we apply it to ourselves: “Lord why do you make us err from your ways and harden our hearts … no one calls upon your name that bestirs himself to take hold of you.”

Here we need to be specific

. Why do we err from his ways? What are the things that harden our hearts? Do we call on his name sufficiently? Do we bestir ourselves to take hold of him? The word bestirs appeals to me …. ‘come on, take a grip on yourself … this is Advent … get real’.

The

NEW TESTAMENT READING [1 CORINTHIANS 1: 3 – 6] reminds us of something crucial: “God is faithful … you were called.” I have been called to this Advent … I have been “enriched in him.”