God is inviting us to a spiritually fruitful Advent

God is inviting us to a spiritually fruitful Advent

Jem Sullivan

Is 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7
Ps 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
1 Cor 1:3-9
Mk 13:33-37

Advent offers us a graced time to recognise that the deepest longings of our heart are for God.

The prophet Isaiah shines a bright light on this indwelling desire, etched by God into each human heart. For this reason, Isaiah is considered the prophet of Advent; he gives authentic voice to our hunger for God to be close to us, his writings centre our Advent preparations.

Almost immediately after the Israelites returned from exile to their homeland they began to fall away from God’s commands. The prophet laments his own sins and the sins of his people. He begs for God’s intervention. Then, he uses a striking metaphor to describe Yahweh’s relationship with Israel: the image of a potter and his clay.

A skilled potter shapes formless clay into beautiful and functional objects. In the same way, Israel is being shaped by God’s loving hand. Isaiah’s image leads to the question – “are we willing to be moulded by God just as a potter moulds clay?”

In our second reading, St Paul speaks to the Corinthians as they anticipate the revelation of Christ. Beginning with words of blessing, Paul thanks God for the many gifts they have received. Then, Paul encourages them, and us, to use our God given talents well. As they wait for the revelation of the Lord’s glory in perseverance to the end, Paul reminds them, and us, that God is our strength. Do we lean on God to face the challenges of daily life?

Jesus’ advice to the disciples resounds through Advent. Be alert! Be watchful! He repeats the message three times, reminding us of the importance of awareness to our lives of faith.

One obstacle to the Christian life is indifference to God’s presence in our lives. Mark warns against being asleep when the Lord of the house returns. In Advent, we hear God’s word with hearts and minds open and alert to God’s loving presence in our midst.

In this season of anticipation and the Incarnation, Jesus, the Son of God, brings peace and hope that the world cannot give. For most of us, Advent is that rushed time that quickly turns into the most hectic part of the year. We are distracted, overwhelmed, and focused on fleeting, material things that satisfy only for a time. God’s word invites us to fix our gaze on the eternal and greatest gift we can give and receive in this season of joy – the gift of a living relationship with God’s only Son, Jesus, who reconciles us to friendship with God.

May Advent be a spiritually fruitful season as we await the Church’s celebration of the birth of Jesus, the Word of God, as we pray, “speak to me, Lord”.

Question: How do Jesus’s words invite you to a spiritually fruitful Advent?


Jem Sullivan holds a doctorate in religious education and is an associate professor of Catechetics in the School of Theology and Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.