01Dec 1st December, 2013. First Sunday of Advent

1st December, 2013. First Sunday of Advent

Is 2:1-5. The happy future promised by God is not just for Jerusalem, or for the fortunate, the healthy and the wealthy in our society, but for all who seek the truth and who work for peace.

Rom 13:11-14. We can “wake from sleep” and “put on the armor of light” during this Advent season, if we resolve to live closer to the mind of Christ, and let him come more fully into our hearts.

Mt 24:37-44. We must accept the gifts and challenges each day brings, while trying to make ready for the day when Christ will come for the final judgment.

Theme: “Many shall stream to God’s house” says the prophecy. This will come true when every heart is inspired by the message of Christ, and we are ready to welcome him when he returns to judge the earth.

First Reading: Book of Isaiah 2:1-5

The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it.

Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 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. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!

Second Reading: Epistle to the Romans 13:11-14

Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy.

Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Gospel: Matthew 24:37-44

For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

A Season of Awareness

Advent is a time of heightened awareness that invites us to see ourselves as God sees us – insofar as that is possible. Both liturgy and life are pointing us towards the future. Isaiah calls us to confess our sins and hope for better days. Saint Paul’s message in Corinthians is confident and upbeat. Mark warns us against complacency, since the end is coming sooner than we expect. Amid such disparity, we might go with the first and third readings, about being prepared for the day of the Lord.

God’s Word invites us reassess where our ways may be leading us. This annual reminder that the world as we know it will one day end, is more appropriate during the northern Wintery season, when daylight is shorter and darkness seems to be winning over the light. But the positive side of this is that a new day is dawning, when Christ will come again into our lives with power to save us.

Recently in his letter about “The Joy of the Gospel” Pope Francis has warmly encouraged us all to remember what we have to be joyful about, as Christians. Advent would be an excellent time to take his message to heart and maybe even make a new beginning in our Catholic lives. Now is the time to open our hearts and invite the Lord to come more fully into our lives and lead us on.

We begin Advent with a great need for his coming. Our first reading puts this need into words, “We have all withered like leaves and our sins blew us away like the wind.” The whirling, withered leaves of autumn are a familiar scene, these past few weeks. Isaiah proposes whirling leaves as symbols of all that is dried up and withered in our lives. But he also calls us to look for a better day. God is still in charge of creation, and our personal lives are under his loving care. We pray with fervour this Advent, “Come, Lord Jesus,” and make our own the words of the psalm, “Visit this vine and protect it, the vine your right hand has chosen.” It is a central plank of our faith that the Lord never abandons His people.

It’s interesting to watch the behaviour of people at airports, waiting for loved ones to arrive from a flight? They seem excited, eager for the first appearance of the familiar face, ready with the broad smile of greeting. We too wait for the Lord’s coming with anxious eagerness, because we long for his presence.. It is an alert, active waiting – in Advent spirit. In the gospel Jesus says, “Be on guard, stay awake”. He wants us to have a clear purpose in life, to mature in our relationship with him and with others, to give time to prayer, and to live with his message in our hearts. That’s what our Advent should be like. And while we wait, we can enjoy his promised gifts. St. Paul assures us: “You will not be without any of the gifts of the Spirit while you are waiting for our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Let us use these coming weeks in a new spirit of hope and awareness, in the spirit of an Advent people.

 


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