Browsing Homilies

First Sunday of Advent (Year B)

Is 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7 | Ps 80 | 1 Cor 1:3-9 | Mk 13:33-37

In today’s first reading, the prophet Isaiah offers us one of the Bible’s most beautiful images of God. It is the image of God as the potter, one who makes things out of clay. We, his people,  are the clay. Like an artist, God is hard at work molding and shaping us. He is not some distant, impersonal force watching over the world the way a little child might look at an ant farm or fish tank. No. God is involved in our lives, getting God’s hands dirty, showing us the way we should go, and smoothing out the road ahead of us.

The question we might naturally ask is, “If God is so active in the world, why is it such a mess?” Isaiah himself asks this question himself when he writes, “Why do you let us wander, O Lord, from your ways and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?” It is a question that people have been asking since the beginning of history.

One simple answer is that God is not done with the world yet. Before the potter gets his hands on it, clay is just a lump of wet mud. The potter has to place it on the spinning wheel and then form it gently but firmly into whatever shape is pleasing to him or her. Then, the clay must be baked in a kiln, and once it is removed, the paint can be applied. It is a long process to go from a lump of clay to a beautiful vase. And, it is a long process to lead humanity out of its selfishness and cruelty into the love and wisdom of God.

If there’s one thing that is true about God, it is that God is in no rush. God takes the time He needs to get things right. After all, He has all the time in the world! He took millions of years to form the universe and eventually to form the earth. He took millions more years to make the earth sustainable for life and suitable for humans. Then, He took many centuries to form the people of Israel in the ways of His goodness and truth. Over the course of several more centuries, He taught them to hope for a Messiah. Then, in the fullness of time, Jesus was born to save us from our sins. Now, God is preparing the world for the time when Jesus will come again to create a new heaven and a new earth.

We don’t know how long it will be until the world comes to an end, but it will come to an end. And, when it does, Christ will be revealed as the King of Creation, and those who have believed in him will reign with him in glory. As Saint Paul tells us in today’s second reading, “He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” God’s masterpiece—the redeemed human race gathered into His Church—which He fashioned patiently with His own hands, will then be complete. If we aren’t where we think we should be in our lives and in our relationship with God, then we need to be patient. God isn’t done with us yet. He is making something of us that is even more beautiful than we could ever imagine. But it takes time and sometimes even a little pain. But our Heavenly Father will not fail us. Trust in His love for you and the brilliance of His work in you whether you find yourself still a wet lump of clay, or baking in the fire.


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