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Reflection for the First Sunday of Advent

Joan Mahoney, CND

Each of the three readings this First Sunday of Advent invites us into the Season. In the first reading Isaiah says “we are the clay and You the potter”. Paul writes in his letter “God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son.”  Mark’s gospel in particular touches my past and present in a special way:

Jesus said to his disciples:

"Be watchful! Be alert! …

you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,

whether in the evening, or at midnight,

or at cockcrow, or in the morning [on the E-train].

May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.

What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'"

I added the phrase “on the E-train” because of a morning commute ten years ago which I will never forget. I got on the E-train in rush hour at the Union Turnpike Station in the borough of Queens in New York City. To my surprise - empty seats! I sat down but soon the stench hit me. There was one person near me hunched over and looking poorly, and all others on the car were far away. I considered getting up and moving as well, but something (or someone) told me to stay there, and in doing so, recognize in a small way the humanity of this person. I stayed there, and in 45 minutes at my destination I opened my wallet on my way off and placed a bill in the person’s hand. The head turned up. Our eyes met. There was a smile. It was Jesus.

I felt like I had received an electric shock. It was unbelievable, yet I believe what I saw and felt. The ‘doubting Thomas’ in me had been reconciled to the world as it is.

This Advent season I pray to be more watchful. 


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