Welcome to Advent
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This weekend we begin a new liturgical year with the Advent season. Four weeks of Advent prepare us to celebrate the First Coming of Jesus in Bethlehem. But they also urge us to be ready for his Second Coming and for his comings into our daily lives.
Pause for a moment and listen to one of the following songs.
God of history, present, past and future, be with us as we begin our Advent journey in this new liturgical year. Make us aware of your presence in one another and in all creation.Prepare us to celebrate your birth and to anticipate your coming at the end of time. Protect us from deeds of darkness and shed your light upon us. Help us to be spiritually awake to your comings in the events and encounters of daily life. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
The ways of God
Isaiah lives at a time when Israel is divided into two kingdoms―both of which are being threatened by the powerful Assyrians. Isaiah is a prophet in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. During his ministry, when there prevail either wars or rumors of war, the people and the Kings fail to listen to and follow the ways of God.
But Isaiah seeks to rise above the gloom and doom, looking forward to a much brighter future when his people will listen to and follow God’s word. Peace will reign in the land—not only that, but other nations will be drawn to Jerusalem and they too will realize that God’s ways are the best ways. For all this to happen, the nation must change its ways.
Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord
In this song of joy and praise, the pilgrim proclaims the centrality of Jerusalem in Israel’s life.
Throw off deeds of darkness
We detect a note of urgency here, as with Jesus in today’s Gospel. Even though Paul is writing to a Christian community which has accepted Christ, their total conversion to his ways is far from complete. Hence, he urges them to “throw off deeds of darkness” ―naming six such deeds―and to put on “the armor of light.”
During this season of Advent, the Church urges us to do the same. We too must look into our hearts and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, name those things in our lives that are preventing us from wholeheartedly committing to Jesus.
Jesus instructs his disciples on the importance of readiness for his Second Coming. To drive home his lesson, Jesus draws on what happened to the people who did not prepare for the Great Flood. They knew it was coming but they were so consumed with the affairs of everyday life that they failed to prepare. One exception was Noah who did get ready and was saved.
Like Noah we, as followers of Jesus, should be prepared for his Second Coming. The reference to the “two men” and “two women” is one of contrast. Externally, they seem alike, but internally, one is prepared for God’s coming and the other is not. The clear message in this Gospel is: “Be ready!”
By selecting this reading for the first Sunday of Advent, the Church urges us to live our lives in readiness for the Lord’s coming at the end of time, whether that end time is the culminating event of our individual lives or of all of human history.
This week’s questions
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1. What word’s or image’s in the readings caught your attention? Did they comfort or challenge you or touch you in some way?
2. Sadly, ‘weapons of war’ are now being used on a regular basis in our nation to kill many innocent people. On this controversial subject, do you think it is time for our government to do whatever it takes to make sure no ordinary citizen can have access to weapons of war?
3. In the second reading, Paul names six “works of darkness.” Can you name one or two works of darkness that you sometimes, if not often, have to battle? What ‘armor of light’ helps you to fight the spiritual darkness?
4. What can cause you to miss God’s comings in daily life? What can help you to be alert to his comings? Can you name a recent coming of God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit in the events and encounters of your daily life?
Responding to the Word
Suggestions on ways to act:
1. Get rid of all ‘weapons of war’ that hinder you from getting closer to Jesus and his ways e.g., jealousy, negative words and deeds.
2. Fight with prayer—maybe with fasting and your own determination—one work of darkness that is operative in your life.
3. Decide on one way you are going to include the poor in your Christmas budget.
Having listened to God’s Word and listened to others’ reflections on it, take a quiet moment to reflect on what you are hearing God say to you. Your response will be what you bring to Eucharist on Sunday, asking Jesus to help you respond as he asks of you. When ready, jot down your reflections.
Praying with the Word
Father in heaven,our hearts desire the warmth of your love and our minds are searching for the light of your Word. Increase our longing for Christ our Savior and give us the strength to grow in love, that the dawn of his coming may find us rejoicing in his presence and welcoming the light of his truth.We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.
“Come, Lord Jesus!”
1130: “The Church celebrates the mystery of her Lord “until he comes,” when God will be “everything to everyone.” Since the apostolic age the liturgy has been drawn toward its goal by the Spirit’s groaning in the Church: Marana tha! The liturgy thus shares in Jesus’ desire: “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you . . . until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” In the sacraments of Christ the Church already receives the guarantee of her inheritance and even now shares in everlasting life, while “awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus.” The “Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come . . . Come, Lord Jesus!'”
The final tribulation and Christ’s return in glory
Humble vigilance of heart