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The Hope of the Life We Are Called to Live

Posted : Dec-02-2023

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The following is a reflection on the Gospel for Sunday, December 3, 2023, Week 1 of Advent (Mark 13: 33-37) from Bishop Ivan Camilleri, Western Region Bishop for the Archdiocese of Toronto. To watch a video version of this reflection, visit our YouTube channel.


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, peace be with you.

Today, with a sense of joy and hope, we embark on a new liturgical year on this first Sunday of Advent... and as much as we often say that this is a time of anticipation, our readings tell us that it is also, and probably more importantly, a time of accompaniment.

As we know, the season of Advent calls us to contemplate three interrelated realities: first, the recollection of the historical expectation of the birth of our Lord; second, the anticipation of His active involvement in our lives presently, and third, the awaiting of his return at the end of time. And, while we often most directly connect Advent to the first of these realities (preparing for our Lord’s coming at Christmas), the focus of the first week of Advent is rather on the hope of the life we are called to live with the Lord presently and in the future.    

This tone is set for us by the prophet Isaiah in today’s first reading: “Lord you are our father; we are the clay and you are the potter: we are all the work of your hands”.

Here, we are reminded that we are the beloved children of God, who depend on Him for our development, so that we can be present in the world to fruitfully fulfill our varied responsibilities be they within the family, in our work, in the church... and through which, we collaborate in God’s continued creative and salvific work, sometimes even without our knowing.

This message, is honed further in the parable the Lord chooses to share with us today in the Gospel of St. Mark, of the man going on a journey, who gives certain responsibilities to be carried out by his servants, while also warning the doorkeeper to be vigilant… This parable is reminiscent of the two Matthean parables we heard in recent weeks, about the acquisition of talents and the wise and foolish virgins.

"The focus of the first week of Advent is on the hope of the life we are called to live with the Lord presently and in the future."

These accounts tell us of what we need to do to accomplish the service God wants us to participate in: to be expressions of his love, mercy, generosity, and justice. In this, we are called to find opportunities to assess the gifts we have, the virtues we need, the graces we are given, and the work we still need to do.

This is the point of our Lord’s exhortation to be watchful, to be alert. Watchful, that is, for how we respond to God’s invitation to accompany Him in our life: in the reality of the incarnation, in our existence at the present time, and when he comes again.

In this way, this first week of Advent invites us to develop a habit of accompaniment: to anticipate, recognize and join our living God in the sacramental life; in the sacred silence of our prayer life; in the dynamism of family life; in the complexity of social life, and in our love of the witness of the holy lives of those still on earth and those in heaven.

If we seek to accompany the Lord while He is with us in these many and varied ways, then we accomplish that permanent state of vigilance that Advent re-calls us to. And when we hear the words from today’s Gospel: “Watch, therefore; 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…” our hearts will not be troubled, but rather, will eagerly await His return.

Let us help one another to take this to heart, as we begin our Advent journey and in this, let us invoke the intercession and example of St. Joseph and Mary, our blessed mother.

May God bless you always.

Bishop Ivan Camilleri is Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto with responsibility for the Western Region, which includes 72 parishes in the western part of the City of Toronto and the Regional Municipality of Peel-Dufferin.  In addition to his regional responsibilities, he is also Vicar for Religious and Liaison for Liturgy.


You are invited to join our video series this Advent by tuning in to our weekday reflections that will be posted on all of our social media sites. Feel free to comment and share these videos with friends and family!

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