In every ball game, all good coaches have one common instruction for the team members, “keep your eye on the ball.” The instruction does not only mean having a watchful connection with the ball, but it also means being on the alert to receive the ball when it comes and to make a skillful use of it. It is common for teachers to tell their students to keep an eye on the ball for academic excellence, employers say the same to their employees for organizational growth, and mentors equally say the same to their mentees to attain success in life.
The Advent period gives us the same instruction “keep your eye on the ball.” It will be helpful for us to identify what the ball means for us and what we can achieve with it this season. We understand the Advent period as the time of WAITING for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ at Christmas. It is clear from the above description that we should keep our eye on our Lord Jesus Christ while waiting for his coming at Christmas; that is the Advent message.
How do we keep our eye on the “ball,” that is on our Lord Jesus Christ this season of Advent? The reflection today supplies us with the strategies. The First Reading (Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7) gives us the indication among other things that we are clay and God is the potter. This introduces a relationship of dependence on our part. We keep our eyes on God and allow Him to mold us and not us trying to mold God into what we think He should be. We are invited to become docile to God whom the prophet Isaiah, in the First Reading, begs earnestly to come down quickly.
In the Second Reading (1 Cor. 1:3-9), St. Paul enjoins us to adopt the attitude of WAITING which is very fundamental for the Advent period. In the Gospel Reading (Mark 13:33-37), our Lord Jesus Christ tells us to be watchful and to be on the alert. From the Readings, we understand the following procedure while keeping our eyes on our Lord Jesus: waiting, watching, and being on the alert.
In our day and age, Christmas, like other Christian celebrations has been commercialized. Advent has also been transformed from a time of waiting for the birth of Jesus Christ to the time for waiting to celebrate ourselves. Instead of keeping our eyes on the Lord, most people keep their eyes on fashion, sales, money, and worldly cares.
Advent is a time of watchful waiting. We are invited to keep our eyes on the Lord by paying attention to the Word of God which is God Himself (John 1:1). We also keep our eyes on the Lord by exercise our Christian duties diligently. The Gospel tells us that the man who was traveling placed his servants in charge, each with his work. Each of us has an endowment from God, and we are expected to be active while waiting and watching for the coming of the Lord.
As we march into the Advent period, let us remember to “keep our eyes on the ball.” Active watching should empower our waiting, doing good and being on the alert to resist sin. May the grace of God during this season help us to live up to the demands of the Advent season.