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ADVENT……..WATCH! BE ALERT! BE ON STANDBY!
Happy New Year! The Church’s calendar begins today. The word “Advent” means “coming” and starts with a message similar to the theme of last week’s Mass. Be ready and watch for the coming of Jesus. However, it means a little more than just coming; it conveys to us expectancy within the person waiting. This can be understood in three ways.
First, we anticipate Christ’s advent on Christmas. We go beyond the materialism of the modern world by a focus on the real meaning of the feast: God enters human existence in a totally personal way.
Second, we look forward to Jesus’ arrival in our lives through the blossoming of our faith and the insight we have as pure ‘gift’ to see God’s saving work at hand in Christ within His Word, Sacrament and Community. Thus in a mystical way we bring his body into the world through our union with him also in the communion of saints.
Finally, we speculate on the end of this universe at the conclusion of time. The universe is not self-sustaining. Eventually it will terminate in some sort of extinction. Time is finite. It will reach a culmination either in a vast cataclysm or total dissolution. Then the real universe will begin in God.
So, welcome to Year C! During Advent and Lent, the three Readings in the Liturgy of the Word are linked….see if you can see and hear the links!
THE LITURGY OF THE WORD.
It is very important for us to read God’s Word slowly and reflectively. We are not reading it just to get information or answer questions; we must enable God’s Word to enter us just like liquid polish enters timber that is thirsty for nutrition. A good rule of thumb is to have a question like this in our mind……”Lord, what are you saying to ME in your Word today? Secondly, how can my life be changed, in order to allow God’s Word to find a Home in my being? Finally, as for special Feasts, Advent and Lent, the three Readings are in a sequence which has an underlying thread running through them. In Ordinary time, the First Reading, and the Gospel are bridged…so we generally look for the link. The Second Reading is continuous, and follows on to the next Sunday.
First Reading: Jeremiah 33:14-16
See, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks – when I am going to fulfil the promise I made to the House of Israel and the House of Judah:
‘In those days and at that time,
I will make a virtuous Branch grow for David,
who shall practise honesty and integrity in the land.
In those days Judah shall be saved
and Israel shall dwell in confidence.
And this is the name the city will be called:
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
(Let’s PAUSE and reflect upon this reading, and let us ask ourselves the two questions stated above. That is our PERSONAL response to the Word. This might take a few minutes, try not to rush it. The Psalm and Antiphon is the COMMUNITY response to God’s Word, a bit like a short and sweet Text Message)
Psalm: Ps 24:4-5. 8-9. 10. 14
R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
Lord, make me know your ways.
Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
for you are God my Saviour. R.
The Lord is good and upright.
He shows the path to those who stray,
he guides the humble in the right path;
he teaches his way to the poor. R.
His ways are faithfulness and love
for those who keep his covenant and will.
The Lord’s friendship is for those who revere him;
to them he reveals his covenant. R.
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:12 – 4:2
May the Lord be generous in increasing your love and make you love one another and the whole human race as much as we love you. And may he so confirm your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless in the sight of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all his saints.
Finally, brothers and sisters, we urge you and appeal to you in the Lord Jesus to make more and more progress in the kind of life that you are meant to live: the life that God wants, as you learnt from us, and as you are already living it. You have not forgotten the instructions we gave you on the authority of the Lord Jesus. The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Let’s PAUSE again after this Reading, and reflect on it like you did after the first Reading. The Community Acclamation follows and should be sung: e.g. ALLELUIA, or PRAISE TO YOU LORD JESUS CHRIST KING OF ENDLESS GLORY. When we are present at our Sunday Eucharistic Celebration, the Alleluia or Praise be to you…should always be sung. Why? It’s a bit like singing Happy Birthday! We never say it… 🙂
Gospel: Luke 21:25-28. 34-36
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations in agony, bewildered by the clamour of the ocean and its waves; men dying of fear as they await what menaces the world, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.’
‘Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap. For it will come down on every living man on the face of the earth. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.’ The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
DEEP SEA DIVING INTO THE SCRIPTURES
If you have ever opened your eyes under water, or used a snorkel and face mask, or had the opportunity to use an aqualung, it is a very different world to explore isn’t it? I love snorkelling, and it is though the fish welcome you into their world. However, they need to be treated with respect, and one must be aware of ‘no-go’ zones especially where sharks are known to call that place, ‘home’ especially at meal times. So, this next section is going down into the Scriptures, which opens the pathway for us to be curious about The Word, and it will also develop an appetite in us to do this more often.
Focusing the Word
Key words and phrases
See, the days are coming.
The Son of Man is coming.
Your liberation is near at hand.
Watch yourselves. Stay Awake.
To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
May the Lord be generous in increasing your love for one another and the whole human race.
to the point
The gospel (and the entire season of Advent) proclaims that the Lord comes. The Lord’s coming fulfils God’s promise (first reading), reveals God’s purpose (‘liberation is near at hand’; gospel), and strengthens us to ‘stand erect and hold heads high’, readied for the Lord even now in ‘the cares of daily life’.
Connecting the Word
to the second reading
Paul commends the Thessalonians for conducting themselves in a manner pleasing to God and exhorts them to ‘make more and more progress’. Similarly, Advent invites us to consider what we already do that is pleasing to God and to do so even more.
Typically, we tend to want things now even knowing that we will pay later, for example, when the bills come in. Advent reverses this ‘have now, pay later’ lifestyle to one in which we conduct ourselves rightly now for the sake of future glory, or in other words, ‘pay now, have later.’
Understanding the Word
Luke begins his gospel with a formal introduction that describes his work and the work of others who preceded him as a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us (1:1). The theme of ‘fulfilment’ is important to Luke as he presents his gospel both to Jewish and Gentile Christians. To his Jewish Christian readers Luke offers assurances that God’s word is reliable and that ancient promises made to their ancestors have not been abrogated but instead have been fulfilled. Thus, both Mary and Zechariah in their Canticles indicate that the wondrous deeds signalled in the annunciation to Mary and in the birth of John the Baptist are concrete realisations of past commitments. Mary exclaims that God remembered his mercy ‘according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever’ (1:54-55); Zechariah praises God who ‘has raised up a horn for our salvation . . . as he promised through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old’ (1:69-70). Divine promises and prophetic words are being fulfilled in Jesus.
Luke’s Gentile readers face a different but related problem: as Christianity loses ground in the Jewish world and increasingly moves into Gentile territory, it could easily be assumed that God has abandoned the Jews and has newly adopted the Gentiles. (Paul had to argue against this view in his letter to the Romans.) If this were the case, Gentiles might fear that God would also abandon them in the future. Luke goes to great lengths to show that God’s plan is orderly (1:3): the offer of salvation began with Jews and when God had fulfilled the divine promises to them, God extended salvation to include Gentiles. Thus, Gentiles can be assured that Jesus’ offer of salvation is trustworthy and is a continuation of the divine mercy that began with the Jewish ancestors, ‘Abraham and his descendants’.
In like manner, the words of Jesus in this gospel are trustworthy. Being forewarned, disciples can stand with confident assurance because the coming of the Son of Man is not disaster, but rather is the dawn of their redemption.
A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh
THE WRITTEN STYLE OF THE REALHOMILIE
It is my aim that I present the Homily to you in a way that you might hear me speaking.
I do not follow the strict rules of written prose as such; I use the techniques of oratory shared with me
in many Mission Sermons, and Mission Instructions by tried and true Mission Fathers,
from whom I am privileged to
have been formed in that great tradition.
St.Paul of the Cross. Pray for us.
1st Sunday of Advent Year C. 2012.
Dear One and All,
Christmas is nearly here! Well, as far as the shops go, Christmas has been here for at least a month or two! Last Saturday night I was in the City (Sydney) to meet up with some friends of mine, and we went to have Dinner at Darling Harbour, this is a most beautiful place where families like to go to enjoy Sydney Harbour, and choose from the huge number of Restaurants to have Dinner. To our surprise, there must have been hundreds of people dressed up as Santa. Santa’s on water skies, Santa’s in small choirs, people in general wearing the typical Santa hats; small stalls selling Santa gear, and snow that you can buy in a pressure pack called: Santa snow! The background music being broadcasted was Jingle Bells, and All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth! Every now and then…a Christmas carol like Silent Night and Angels we have heard on high was played, within an atmosphere of ‘party time’.
Advent does not exist for most people. Here in Australia, the time of Advent is usually celebrated with Shopping Sprees, Office Parties, Summer heat with flies and mosquitoes around Bar-B-Q’s, and plastering the outsides of Houses with all kinds of coloured lights in the form of Reindeers, Santa Sleighs and maybe one or two Angels; occasionally there are a few Nativity scenes in our shopping centres.
Maranartha! Come, Lord Jesus! Advent is a fantastic time to sharpen our awareness to the Christ who continually comes to us. Advent is a time for us to STOP, LOOK AND LISTEN to God’s Kingdom present, but not yet fully realised. Advent is a time for us to check out the virtue of Hope! It is a time for us to re evaluate our relationship with God, and each other. It is a time to be strengthened by the Gospel, and to facilitate the Spirit’s activity within us, so that we may discern with sharper spiritual vision, the signs and the times in which we live, as an invitation to renewed personal and community mission.
So that being the case, let’s dig into God’s Word for the First Sunday of Advent. The Prophet Jeremiah speaks the Lord’s Word to a people who needed uplifting. They needed that kind of Radar that our Armed Forces use these days at sea; over the horizon views, so that they can be just that little more prepared for what may be coming towards them. Jeremiah, empowered by God’s Word, enables the listeners to see outside themselves to a future time when God’s saving hand will be manifested in a particular way, which will be seen and praised by those who hunger and thirst for this Epiphany. The city will be called: YHWH – tsidrenu….the Lord our Integrity…Jeremiah 33:16. Are we talking about a City like Jerusalem or Bethlehem? Or could the City be within an itinerant group of people called the Anawim, “the Lord’s poor”…….Food for thought!
The Responsorial Psalm is the “community response” to the First Reading; hence its Antiphon is like a Text message for our hearts. To you O Lord, I lift up my soul! The verses of this wonderful Psalm flesh out why we can pray that Antiphon. At this stage you might like to scroll back to the Psalm. The first verse is full of imperatives! Verses two and three outline why the Psalmist/Us can ask the Lord God so directly in verse one. We need to prayerfully pray the Responsorial Psalms with the assistance of Music, or the community representative who is praying this Psalm on our behalf should take it slowly so that we can pray it, and not say it…..See the difference? Fortunately, while at home viewing this Blog on your Tablet or PC, you can take your time if savouring God’s Word.
The Second Reading from St.Paul is such a warm, uplifting and encouraging Pastoral Letter to the Christian Church/Community in Thessalonica. The content, tone and wording of this Letter is evergreen, and should well be a guide for all Christian Leaders for all times. If modern day Pastoral Letters they sometimes read like a Government Gazette, they are just not Pastoral but clinical and legalistic. The spirituality of the Gospel is being affirmed and encouraged by the Apostle within the fledgling Church. This is truly and Advent extract from this Pauline Letter. See how the Second Reading builds on the First Reading, and then the Psalm? The savouring of God’s Word this Sunday will enable us to truly enter into the spirit of Advent. Why not re visit these Readings during the week, and as you go through them, have in the back of your mind a good question like; “Lord, what are you saying to me through your Word, how can my life be changed in response?”
The Gospel today develops the ” Advent ” theme even more; the first paragraph calls us to be sensitive and astute as to what goes on around us. If there is one situation that scares the life out of all us, is when the ‘ earth moves under our feet’, or when other potential cataclysmic events rock the world, we begin to realise once more how fragile we are, and how vulnerable we are in the face of natural disasters. These events can bring out the best/the divine in human nature, and it can bring out the worst as well. The state of ‘ readiness ‘ and sensitivity which is brought to the surface as a by-product of natural disasters ought to be on ‘standby’ within us all the time. This ‘readiness’ for Mission is the key, our alertness to respond to Christ within our sisters and brothers, the inner courage to live the inner integrity in the face of and within our society, is something like the Prophet Jeremiah was speaking about in the last line of the first reading today………’the city will be called, ‘ the Lord our integrity’.
The second paragraph of the Gospel tells us very clearly as to what can anesthetise our response to our Christian calling. So the first Sunday of the Liturgical Year in this season of Advent, has a very important place in our lives. If we jump to Christmas and dismiss Advent, it is a bit like skipping the Entre’ and Main course at Dinner, and going straight to the Sweets!
Advent has more social opposition than Lent! December in the Southern Hemisphere is ‘party time’, beach time, and holidays. Whereas for our Northern Hemisphere sisters and brothers, it is mostly cold, dark, wet and gloomy, punctuated by dazzling coloured lights in the Cities, Towns and Villages. In the country areas, the gathering around gorgeous fire places, preparing to eat Baked Ham and Turkey, Plum Puddings with Brandy Custard, and shopping for presents are on our minds. Christmas is right in your face from the moment you hop in your car to go somewhere. Advent is a subtle undercurrent which when visited, ingested, and savoured, has the ability to nudge us see the world and its people, as truly God’s people, with the latent Missionary adventure of bringing Heaven to Earth, as we pray in The Lord’s Prayer. The season of Advent is a time and opportunity for inner renewal, the discarding of numbing ways which can inhibit our feeling for, and response to, the Christ who comes to us all the times in Word, Sacrament and His People.
May we all be blessed during this time of Advent, and as we engage in savouring God’s Word, may the Spirit of God find a responsive heart in all of us.
God Bless you and your families, and may we never forget each other, the next time that we are held in conversation with the Lord. Come, Lord Jesus! Fr. Kev.
OUR FAMILY PRAYER TIME………
This is a great opportunity to gather the Family in Prayer. Having a Prayer Setting really adds to and designates this time as a ‘special’ time together. You might like to have a nice coloured cloth on a coffee table, or on the centre of the Dining Room Table. You will need a candle, Crucifix, Bible …in the opened position, even at the Gospel of the Sunday, and maybe a flower. During Easter tide you might like to place some white and gold material on your devotional altar. You might like to create your own permanent ‘sacred space’ in your home, where the Word of God is open, and a small tee light within a fire proof glass, could awaken in the minds and hearts of your family of the ‘real presence’ of God in His Word. Prayer time needs to be able to engage as many of our senses as possible. The burning of some fragrant oil also can evoke in the minds of your family, ‘prayer time’. Someone in the family might like to be the leader of the intercessions, then other family members can share the prayers….everyone can be invited to join is spontaneous shared prayer…
Leader: We pray to a God who is ever attentive to our needs.
That all the Church have the strength to live lives reflecting that Christ is already present among us.
That all world leaders have the strength to govern with justice and equity.
That the weak and downhearted have the strength to stand erect and recognise Christ’s presence to them.
That each of us here have the strength always to see Christ in each other.
Leader: O God, you come to save us: hear these our prayers of need that we might be ready to meet you when you come. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Blessing is taken from the Iona Abbey Sacramentary, Scotland.
Iona Abbey is located on the Isle of Iona, just off the Isle of Mull on the West Coast of Scotland. It is one of the oldest and most important religious centres in Western Europe. The abbey was a focal point for the spread of Christianity throughout Scotland and marks the foundation of a monastic community by St. Columba, when Iona was part of the Kingdom of Dál Riata.
1. The Cross
ALL WE SHALL TAKE IT.
2. The bread……………
ALL WE SHALL BREAK IT.
3. The pain
ALL WE SHALL BEAR IT.
4. The joy………………
ALL WE SHALL SHARE IT.
5. The Gospel……………
ALL WE SHALL LIVE IT.
6. The love…………
ALL WE SHALL GIVE IT.
7. The light……………
ALL WE SHALL CHERISH IT.
8. The darkness…………….
ALL WE SHALL PERISH IT. Amen.