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Advent: A Time to Be Watchful and Alert | Breaking Open the Word at Home

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In the readings for this Sunday, Dec. 3, we’re reminded that Advent is a time for us to wake up, pay attention; evaluate how ready we are to receive God in any ways that God makes himself known to us.


by Jen Schlameuss-Perry


The readings for this Sunday, Dec. 3, are a little bridge between our experience of God as King of the Universe and our experience of God as a tiny, innocent, helpless baby. The baby is going to be our focus soon, but we know that Jesus isn’t helpless. Our God has always come to us in ways that we can understand, this first week of Advent, we’re encouraged to pay attention to the many ways that Jesus reveals himself to us, to look for him everywhere in our lives, and to make our hearts ready to see him when he’s with us.


Isaiah 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7
Would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in our ways!


Psalm 80
Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.


1 Corinthians 1:3-9
God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.


Mark 13-33-37
Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.


You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:

Scriptures for December 3, First Sunday of Advent, Cycle B

Animated Scripture preview for kids at CathKids



Happy New Year! Advent begins our new liturgical year–a new cycle of readings that focus on the Evangelist, Mark, (cycle B), and a new opportunity to experience God through his Word each week. On this First Sunday of a very short Advent Season (the Fourth Sunday and Christmas Eve are the same day!), our readings are emotionally split. On one hand, they say we can’t wait for God to come, and on the other hand, we’re a little concerned that when God does come, we won’t be up to snuff. Isaiah expresses this beautifully, and with very relatable thoughts—if only God would come and make things right…but, would God find us right?…No…God would find us a mess…but…we are like clay in God’s hands—there’s hope for us because God can continue to shape us. We’re not done yet. But, we have to be willing to put ourselves in God’s hands and let God form us into something better.

The second reading is a reminder that we should remain faithful to the things we were taught, to remember that God is faithful, and that we were called into this relationship with God. As we heard two weeks ago, God only calls us to what our abilities allow. We can do this.

Keeping those two readings in mind, Jesus tells us in the Gospel that we need to be ready. Isaiah’s request, which is the request of all God’s people, was heard—and God did come, and will come again; when we least expect it. Don’t let him find us sleeping. This obviously doesn’t mean the natural rest that we all need—it means to not be dozy in our attitudes, in our vigilance in attending to the work that God gave us. Advent is a time for us to wake up, pay attention; evaluate how ready we are to receive God in any ways that God makes himself known to us.



If Jesus showed up in your house today, how would you feel? What would your family do? What would you do to welcome him?



Although Advent isn’t like Lent in that we give something up, it is similar in that we work extra hard to prepare ourselves to receive Jesus into our hearts in a special way. What can you do this Advent to help make your heart more open to seeing Jesus wherever he is, and to make your heart more ready to welcome him?



Advent is a super busy time for adults–much preparation and anticipation of the coming Holy Day. How can you make your preparations and the preparations that your family will do together (Advent Wreath, Christmas Tree, decorating in general, buying gifts for family, friends, maybe the needy) more intentionally focused on preparing your home for Jesus to be more present in it?


Bonus Question for all three groups:

What is your favorite decoration/preparation during the Advent Season, and what does it mean to you?


Related: How to Preview the Sunday Scriptures with Your Kids


A little lectio

The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.


A little Bible study

Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:

  • During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
  • Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
  • Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
  • Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
  • If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)

For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.


The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”


Follow Jerry Windley-Daoust:

Publisher, Gracewatch Media

Jerry Windley-Daoust is a writer, editor, and father of five. He writes essays and stories at Windhovering and is the show-runner for Gracewatch Media, a small Catholic publisher. You can follow his latest publishing projects at gracewatch.org.

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