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December 3, 2023

First Sunday of Advent

Recalling familiar last-century lyrics, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” bright lights are popping up all over our Santa Clara neighborhood. We want to anticipate happy holidays. Still, nationally and even globally, deep apprehension tempers our December celebration. Our situation now, maybe always, finds us caught between hope and fear. 

In Christianity, the weeks of Advent hope for Christmas joy, but these days also recognize conflicts that mar our existence, our world, and our souls. These Sundays offer a gentle, subtle, but pervasive hope that can turn humanity—and each of us—away from the anxiety and confrontation, that marks our common life.

As Advent begins on Dec. 3, a reading from Isaiah (63:16–17, 19, 64:2–7) acknowledges our situation. It hopes that God should “meet us doing right . . . mindful of you in our ways,” but acknowledges, “You are angry, and we are sinful. . . . You have delivered us up to our guilt.” The fault is ours; we create our own mess.

Both the reading from Isaiah and then the following, from Paul’s first letter to Corinthians (1:3–9), offer hope. For Isaiah, we can become clay shaped into useful, beautiful pottery by the hand of God. Paul, beginning the letter with encouragement, assures his readers that they “are not lacking in any spiritual gift.” We need not and dare not surrender to despair.

Instead, we wait. In the Sunday Gospel (Mark 13:33–37), Jesus likens us to servants nervously looking for the return of the master: “You do not know when the lord of the house is coming. . . . Watch!” He says, effectively, “Don’t miss the moment.” Advent calls us to this watchful waiting, open to every hint of God present in our world and especially in the human beings with whom we share this moment of existence.


Fr. Art Liebscher, S.J. ’69

Fr. Art assists the Alumni Office with spiritual services deemed important to the University. His many good works include attending to those in special need, representing the University in liturgies, participating on the Alumni Association Board of Directors, and helping build Santa Clara’s Jesuit outreach to younger alumni, special boards, and other constituencies.