ISAIAH 68:16B-17 | 19B, 64:2-7 1 CORINTHIANS 51:3-9 | MARK 13:33-37
“We are the clay and you the potter, we are all the work of your hands.”
Isaiah begins our Advent reflection. We hear him open his heart to God, confessing his sins and the sins of his people. “We are angry and we are sinful; all of us have become like polluted rags. We have all withered like leaves, and our guilt carries us away like the wind.” Along with his confession, he reaches out to God in a most intimate way. “You, Lord, are our father, our redeemer.” “We are the clay and you the potter, we are all the work of your hands.”
Isaiah’s prayer forms the foundation of our Advent hope. We begin by examin- ing our personal lives, and then, extend- ing our gaze to the world around us. Isaiah gives us two questions to ask of ourselves. First: have I alienated myself from the Father’s love. Second: have I contributed to the world’s alienation from God?
Isaiah’s confession is followed by a prayer that directs us to a renewed rela- tionship with God by offering our lives totally to God. “We are the clay, you are the potter: we are all the work of your hands.”
The founder of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, St. Peter Julian Eymard, spoke at length of this total giv- ing of oneself to God. He called it the gift of self. The insight sprang from the words of Jesus. In the garden of Geth- semane Jesus handed his will to his Fa- ther: “Not my will, but yours be done.” On the cross he released himself entirely to the Father: “Into your hands I com- mend my spirit.”
Advent time brings us back to the ba- sics of our Christian spirituality. We re- flect on our relationship with God, a rela- tionship of complete dependence. We see ourselves as clay in the hand of the di- vine potter. We ask God to determine who and what we are. The gift of self isn’t only the placing our lives in God’s hands, it’s also the pouring out of our lives for others.
This is what we hope for – a world liv- ing as Jesus lived, living for God and for one another. One this first Sunday of Ad- vent we renew our hope for a new me, and a new world. We hope for the coming of the kingdom of God.