Welcome to Advent

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by Fr. Eamon Tobin

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.

Song suggestions

Pause for a moment and listen to one of the following songs.

Opening prayer

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 2:1-5
Vuchetich, Evgeniy Viktorovich, 1908-1974. “Let us Beat Swords into Plowshares” at the United Nations north garden area, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

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.


Beating swords into plowshares

First Sunday in Advent, Year A: The second chapter of Isaiah, verse 4, is powerfully represented by this sculpture gift from an “enemy” country: “He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

The sculpture by Evgeniy Vuchetich, called “Let Us Beat Swords into Plowshares”, a gift from the then Soviet Union was presented on 4 December 1959. The bronze statue represents the figure of a man holding a hammer in one hand, in the other, a sword which he is making into a plowshare, symbolizing man’s desire to put an end to war and convert the means of destruction into creative tools for the benefit of all mankind.

Vuchetich, Evgeniy Viktorovich, 1908-1974. “Let us Beat Swords into Plowshares” at the United Nations north garden area, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. Original source: United Nations; Rodsan18 on August 2, 2007.


What do swords look like for us?

What does it look like to walk in the light of the Lord? A lot like beating swords into plowshares, a lot like taking death and turning it into life.

Courtesy YouTube Channel Storied

Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord

Psalm 122
Peace nobel prize serial by street artist Victor Landeta aka Aum on former Berlin wall segments. From left to right: Willy Brandt, Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi, Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela. Teltow Stadt, Brandenburg, Germany 2014. (Wikimedia Commons)

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

In this song of joy and praise, the pilgrim proclaims the centrality of Jerusalem in Israel’s life.


Courtesy of JessComTV

Throw off deeds of darkness

Romans 13:11-14

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

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.


The armor of light

So what Paul is saying here is, “Look, Jesus is coming back. The day of the Lord is at hand. Put off works of darkness that belong to your previous life, before you came to faith in Christ—maybe when you were a pagan you did such things. But now put on new clothing…

Courtesy YouTube Channel Catholic Productions

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Be ready!

Matthew 24:37-44
Tissot, James, 1836-1902. Two Woman at the Mill, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

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.


Two women at the mill

“…when his (Tissot) carefully researched collection of 350 watercolors depicting the life of Jesus was first published as a book in 1896, it found a large and enthusiastic audience. No one who had followed his previous career could have anticipated that this painter of urban life in Paris and London would undertake the project of painting virtually every event in the Gospels.

The Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ project took nearly ten years to complete. When it was done, it chronicled the entire life of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament in a series of 350 watercolors. To research the project Tissot traveled to Egypt, Syria, and Palestine in 1886–87, and again in 1890.

While in the Holy Land he closely observed the landscape, the vegetation, the architecture, and the manner of dress, and filled sketchbooks with what he saw. He talked with rabbis and studied Talmudic literature as well as theological and historical volumes. He believed that there was still a remaining “aura” in the places where the Gospel events took place, and he spoke of having mystical experiences that added to his careful research. What he wanted to create was something as close as possible to an eyewitness account of the life of Jesus.” [from Terry Glaspey’s “75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know”]

Tissot, James, 1836-1902. Two Woman at the Mill, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.


Courtesy of CCTNtv

This week’s questions

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by Fr. Eamon Tobin

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

Jesus, help me to grow in vigilance for your presence in the events and encounters of our daily lives.

Copyright © 2019. Joe Milner; For more intercessions go to the Sunday Web Site at Saint Louis University.

For the grace of attentiveness: that we may be aware of the signs of the times and that the Spirit will shake us from our complacency to live life fully each day…

For authenticity: that while surrounded by the darkness of selfishness, jealousy, and greed, we may live as children of the light and show God’s love, patience, and compassion to others…

For all who yearn to be free and begin again, particularly those with addictions, those in abusive situations, those experiencing discrimination and persecution: that God lead them to healing and new beginnings…

For communities torn by strife and civil discord: that God will turn hearts from violence and help everyone to listen and work toward a common good…

For the gift of peace: that God will teach the hearts of all the human family so that swords may be turned into plowshares and the resources for war into resources for healing and development…

Closing prayer

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.

Relevant Paragraphs

Homiletic Directory

“Come, Lord Jesus!”

CCC 451, 671, 1130, 1403, 2817

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

CCC 668-677, 769

Humble vigilance of heart

CCC 2729-2733

Catechism Table of Contents

Catechism Index

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Commentary Text: ©2019 Fr. Eamon Tobin, Commentaries & Faith Sharing PDF Handout.
Songs, photos of artwork and videos are curated by They do not necessarily reflect Fr. Tobin’s opinions or preferences.
Intercession starters: Copyright © 2019. Joe Milner; visit The Sunday Web Site at Saint Louis University for a whole lot more.
Catechism links go to mobile friendly site at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church. Copyright permission for posting of the English translation of the CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH on the web site was granted by Amministrazione Del Patrimonio Della Sede Apostolica, case number 130389.

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