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Father in heaven, we thank You for tearing open the heavens
Sunday, 29 November 2020

Sunday 29th November 2020
1st Sunday of Advent (B)
Is. 63:16-17; 64:1,3-8; Ps. 79:2-3,15-16,
18-19; 1 Cor. 1:3-9; Mk. 13:33-37 (Ps Wk I)

For all of human history, it seems that faced with the mystery of human existence and the mystery of God, humanity has unceasingly confronted God with questions. It is not surprising, then, to hear even a great prophet like Isaiah having recourse to questions: “Why do you let us wander from your ways and ‘harden’ our hearts so that we fear you not.”

One approach is to distinguish clearly between “problems” and “mysteries”: “problems” call for solutions, whereas “mysteries” draw us towards prayer and adoration. So, Isaiah prays God to tear open the heavens and be with us.

The Gospel writer, Mark, when he begins narrating the public life of Jesus, writes that “the heavens were being torn open” (Mk. 1:10). He was alluding to Isaiah’s lament and implying that the coming of Jesus, accompanied by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, some five centuries after Isaiah’s writing, is the surprising response to that ancient prayer.

When we now read Isaiah in our day, we recognise that we have been baptised into Jesus’ body in the power of that same spirit. We also know that we are unfinished work. The clay threatens to ‘harden’ prematurely, and we need help to become more responsive to the potter's work — the Father’s ongoing shaping of our lives.

Father in heaven, we thank You for tearing open the heavens and sending Your Son to us to guide our lives by the truth that sets us free.

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