01Dec 01 December, 2019. First Sunday in Advent

Introduction

Advent begins today, and over the next 4 weeks we look forward, waiting in hope. We watch for the end times, when Christ will come in glory, Jesus who was born for us more than 2,000 years ago.

Advent Wreath Blessing

(This may replace the Penitential Act)

Opening Prayer (ICEL 1998)
God our Saviour,
you utter a word of promise and hope
and hasten the day of justice and freedom,
yet we live in a world forgetful of your word,
our watchfulness dulled by the cares of life.

Keep us alert. Make us attentive to your word,
ready to look on your Son when he comes with power and great glory.
Make us holy and blameless, ready to stand secure
when the day of his coming shakes the world with terror.

We ask this through him whose coming is certain, whose day draws near:
your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.

1st Reading: Isaiah 2:1-5

A happy future promised for all who seek the truth and who work for peace

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 ploughshares,
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!

Responsorial: Psalm 121: 1-2, 4-5, 6-9

R./: Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

I rejoiced when I heard them say:
‘Let us go to God’s house.’
And now our feet are standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem. (R./)

It is there that the tribes go up,
the tribes of the Lord.
For Israel’s law it is,
there to praise the Lord’s name.
There were set the thrones of judgement
of the house of David. (R./)

For the peace of Jerusalem pray:
‘Peace be to your homes!
May peace reign in your walls,
in your palaces, peace!’ (R./)

For love of my brethren and friends I say:
‘Peace upon you!’
For love of the house of the Lord
I will ask for your good. (R./)

 

2nd Reading: Romans 13:11-14

We are to wake from sleep and put on the armour of light

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 armour of light; let us live honourably 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

Be ready for the coming of the Son of Man

Jesus said to his disciples, “For as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at 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 least expected hour.”

BIBLE

May your words, O Lord, be in my thoughts, on my lips, and in my heart. May they be my guide on life’s journey and keep me near to you.


Some thoughts on how our Readings can apply to our lives today

Another Advent

What’s another year? was the name of a song that won the Eurovision Song Contest long ago! Today we start another liturgical new year, with the songs of Isaiah singing the praise of Advent. Our year of prayer will carry through to Christmas, then on to Jesus’ Public life, then Lent and Holy Week and the drama of Easter and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Then our time moves towards next Advent, when another year of liturgical prayer begins. This rhythm and pattern can be a blessing for us, providing a spiritual framework of meaning for all the bits and pieces of daily living, during the different seasons. The liturgical year can help us keep our lives grateful and centred on God.

We begin this season of Advent in a spirit of expectation. During this time we look forward not just to the birthday of Jesus at Bethlehem but also for his second coming at the end of time!

Here’s an instance of a woman with something to teach us this Advent. Before we had cell phones or WhatsApp or Voicemail, we depended on the humble landline. There was a mother in Mayo whose son in New York used to phone her up at eight o’clock every Sunday evening. As it neared the time her eyes were fixed on the telephone. No call in or out was allowed as she waited! She would not miss the joy of hearing her son’s voice and all his news. That woman was a model for our spirit of waiting in Advent ! The key attitude is one of being alert, being ready, so as not to miss the time of his coming, ‘you must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect’. These words sound like a warning as though God were ready to pounce and catch us off guard with our affairs not in order! But they are also a promise, filled with hope. The coming of the Christ was and is the best of good news, a gift beyond imagining! It calls for joy and gratitude. Our response should be not fear, but awe and wonder. John Betjamen has expressed it beautifully in this Christmas poem:

‘Is it true? and is it true,
this most tremendous tale of all,
a baby in an ox’s stall?
The Maker of the stars and sea
become a child on earth for me,
that God was man in Palestine
and lives today in bread and wine.’

Let’s imagine ourselves in that stable on the first Christmas night. See there a girl from Nazareth with her quiet husband and a new baby. Then go up to Jerusalem and tell the priests what you saw. Say that helpless, newborn baby is the Anointed One, the long awaited Messiah, the Son of God. They would think you were out of your mind; they would accuse you of blasphemy; they would tell you that God is not like that. They have studied the scriptures and they know God cannot be small and vulnerable like that. But the Son of God has chosen to come among us just like that.

That is the great, joyful surprise of our faith. The presence of God among us is not what we expect, not where we expect. That’s how we miss it. As we begin Advent, we are invited not to miss the amazing gift of God. Be awake and look for God in the most unlikely places. Find God’s call to our goodwill in the doorway where the homeless sleep. Look for God’s presence where refugees are coralled. Grace is present not only in comfortable places and spaces! God is looking out from the wrinkled faces of senior citizens. It’s great to be alive and wide-eyed like a child, at the beginning of our new year of grace. We can welcome this time of Advent with a heartfelt céad míle fáilte


Sobering thoughts

1. Advent tends to be swamped by Christmas music and Christmas noise. It should be a quiet time, where we step back to the fundamental experience of Israel, the experience of trustful waiting on the Lord’s deliverance. It’s a desert time, when we try to empty our minds of the clutter of the past and when our hearts learn from the Prophets what are the deepest needs in our lives. Advent reawakens hope and longing for a better future. Not just a secure financial future for me or you, but a future of Redemption for the entire people.

2. Beyond all the worries and impassioned debates of politics and economics today are two deep and growing threats that we don’t like to think about. They are threats of an apocalyptic level worthy of the fearful language of today’s Gospel. One of these is the threat of nuclear extinction. The other is the threat of climate catastrophe.

The nuclear threat demonstrated its horrific power on the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and has since been enshrined as the status quo, with superpowers threatening each other with mutual destruction. Since 1945 humanity, as well as all plants and animals, have been a hair-trigger away from nuclear extinction, and there have been dozens of lucky, narrow escapes. Noam Chomsky attributed this remarkable record of good luck to divine intervention. The climate-change threat has grown more slowly, like the rising waters of a tsunami, and awareness of it is muddied by a culture of denial, encouraged by commercial interests. Registering the full extent of the danger one is inclined to cry, “Only God can save us now!” We are tempted to ask, “How could God let his creation get into such a dangerus state? Where is Providence in all this?”

3. The consoling hymns of Christmas hardly engage with harsh issues like those we have mentioned. For this we need the more abrasive words of the Prophets, who often spoke up in times of crisis. Their opening words are often laced with doom, while their final words offer hope and consolation. First they try to wake us up and shake us out of our complacency, but they generally end by affirming that all will be resolved by the power and faithfulness of God. Their language is sometimes so deep that we tend to ignore them and focus instead on things that are of little account. But let’s pay special attention to the message of Isaiah, this Advent.

~

Iarratas ar Gaeilgeóirí (ó Nollag, 2019 amach)

Gaeilgeóirí líofa, a bhéad ábalta smaoineamh gearr a chur a fáil dúinn ó am go h’am? Má’a ea, tá fáilte rómhat leagan gaeilge a chur ar alt de mo théacs féin, nó alt úr-nua a chumadh le Domhnnaigh éagsúla.. Seól do dhréacht-téacs chugam in am trátha (cúpla seachtain roimh ré, ar a laghad) agus lig dom é a eagrú in ár ngnáthfhormáid… chun cabhrú le paróistí atá céiliúradh fós as Gaeilge. Má’s féidir leat cabhrú: patrogers43 AT gmail.com. Míle maith agat

Blian nua eile

Cad is brí le blian nua eile? an t-ainm abhí ar amhrán a bhuaigh Comórtas Amhrán na hEoraifíse fada ó shin! Inniú tosaímid ar bhliain nua liotúirgeach, agus chualamar amhráin Íseáia ag canadh moladh na hAidbhinte. Ba thoil le hÍosa go leathnódh craobhscaoileadh an tsoiscéil ó Iarusailéim, amach go himeall an domhain. Ábhar inspioráide fís Íseáia do lucht polaitíochta chomh maith.  I gairdiní na Náisiún Aontaithe i Nua Eabhrach tá dealbh cré uamha  le figiúr fir agus casúr i lámh amháin aige agus sa lámh eile claíomh lena bhfuil sé ag déanamh soc céachta as. Tá fís sin Íseáia ag spreagadh daoine i gcónaí le críoch a chur ar uirlisí cogaidh agus an tsíocháin a chur chun cinn. (ó Machnamh, le Máirtín Mac Conmara, MSC)

BIDDING PRAYERS

  • Introduction: Because God is faithful and loving, we can bring forward our intentions with confidence.
  • For believers, that we may be ready when the Lord comes in glory (quiet pause). Lord, hear us.
  • For all people of good will, that they may find the mercy of God (quiet pause). Lord, hear us.
  • For those who are lonely and sad, that we may mind each other (quiet pause). Lord, hear us.
  • For people in need, that this Advent we may remember them (quiet pause). Lord, hear us.
  • For those who suffer poverty and isolation, that they may recover hope (quiet pause). Lord, hear us.
  • For people with terminal illness, that they may have courage and strength (quiet pause). Lord, hear us.
  • For the dead: For all who have died (especially N and N), including people who died from hunger or disease, that all the dead may have peace and rest in the Kingdom (quiet pause). Lord, hear us.
  • Conclusion: Lord Jesus, you are a true friend to those who revere you. Be our support in all our needs, we pray to you, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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