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WATCH! BE ALERT! BE ON STANDBY!
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!
ADVENT WREATH FAMILY PRAYER:
1ST Sunday. Prophets’ Candle. ( This candle is lit before the Prayer time.)
2nd Sunday. Bethlehem Candle.
3rd Sunday. Shepherds’ Candle.
4th Sunday. Angels’ Candle.
LIGHTING OF THE ADVENT CANDLES.
The First and Second Candles on the wreath are already lit
before our Family Prayer around the Wreath.
Leader: On this Third Sunday of Advent, we light the pink coloured candle, the candle of rejoicing, on our Advent wreath.
Let us pray that God will fill us with joy at the coming of Christ:
Leader: Shout for joy, all you peoples of the earth!
All. The Lord is coming!
Leader: Rejoice and exult with all your heart!
All. The Lord is coming!
Leader: Have no fear, hold firm and take heart!
All. The Lord is coming!
The Third Candle, the Shepherds’ Pink Candle is lit.
Leader: Let us pray:
God of eternal joy,
You are ever faithful to your promises
and ever close to your Church:
the earth rejoices in the hope of the saviours coming
and looks forward with longing
to his return at the end of time.
Prepare our hearts and remove any sadness
that hinders us from feeling the joy
which his coming will bring,
for he is Lord for ever and ever. Amen.
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: Zephaniah 3:14-18
Shout for joy, daughter of Zion,
Israel, shout aloud!
Rejoice, exult with all your heart,
daughter of Jerusalem!
The Lord has repealed your sentence;
he has driven your enemies away.
The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst;
you have no more evil to fear.
When that day comes, word will come to Jerusalem:
Zion, have no fear,
do not let your hands fall limp.
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a victorious warrior.
He will exult with joy over you,
he will renew you by his love;
he will dance with shouts of joy for you
as on a day of festival.
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: Isaiah 12:2-6
R. Cry out with joy and gladness:
for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
Truly, God is my salvation,
I trust, I shall not fear.
For the Lord is my strength, my song,
he became my saviour.
With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation. R.
Give thanks to the Lord, give praise to his name!
make his mighty deeds known to the peoples!
Declare the greatness of his name. R.
Sing a psalm to the Lord
for he has done glorious deeds,
make them known to all the earth!
People of Zion, sing and shout for joy
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. R.
Second Reading: Philippians 4:4-7
I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness. Let your tolerance be evident to everyone: the Lord is very near. There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ 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 3:10-18
When all the people asked John. ‘What must we do?’ he answered, ‘If anyone has two tunics he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same.’ There were tax collectors too who came for baptism, and these said to him, ‘Master, what must we do?’ He said to them, ‘Exact no more than your rate.’ Some soldiers asked him in their turn, ‘What about us? What must we do?’ He said to them, ‘No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!’
A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to think that John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, ‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fan is in his hand to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.’ As well as this, there were many other things he said to exhort the people and to announce the Good News to them. 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
What must we do?
Share with those who have none.
No intimidation. No extortion.
Someone who is more powerful than I am is coming.
The Lord has repealed your sentence.
The Lord your God is in your midst.
The Holy One is among you.
to the point
In the gospel three groups of people ask the same question, ‘What should we do?’ John exhorts them to define their obligations in relation to others, just as John himself defines his role in relation to Jesus. This is the ultimate goal of Advent and Christian life: to understand and define ourselves in relation to the ‘one who is more powerful’ – the Christ.
Connecting the Word
to the first and second reading
These two readings open up for us what is at the basis of the good news: ‘the Lord your God is in your midst’ (first reading) and ‘The Lord is very near’ (second reading).
With so much to do in these hectic, final days before Christmas, we may find ourselves asking, ‘What should we do?’ The gospel pushes us to answer the question on a deeper level than organising busy holiday preparations.
Understanding the Word
Repentance and relationship with God
John’s preaching spells out the details of the ‘repentance’ he proclaimed in last Sunday’s gospel. His uncompromising directives to a variety of people require them to repent by changing their behaviour towards others. For some it will mean positive action such as sharing surplus goods with those who are in need; for others it will involve stopping corrupt behaviour such as extortion, over-charging, and making false accusations. This other-centred approach reflects John’s own approach to ministry which he understands in terms of his relationship to the one mightier than he who ‘is coming’. Knowing that in relation to Jesus he is but a servant gives him his sense of place and purpose in proclaiming the good news. Both his identity and mission are defined in relation to Jesus.
In this John stands in the company of a long line of servants who understood themselves and their mission in terms of their relationship with God. Certainly all the prophets realised that they were messengers of God, a vocation that simultaneously gave them great status and authority but also made of them servants. Their preaching and exhortation made it clear that their words were not their own (‘thus says the Lord’) and that their authority came from God. Apart from God they were nothing. The same can be said of Abraham and Moses. Abraham, who became the father of a host of nations (Gen 17:4) and was a mediator of blessing to all the nations of the earth (Gen 12:3) nevertheless was one who faithfully and unquestioningly obeyed the commands of God (Gen 12:1; 13:17; 22:2). Abraham could fulfil his mission because he knew that he was the servant of God (Gen 26:24). Moses, who could withstand the mighty Pharaoh and lead a great nation, knew that he was the ‘intimate friend’ of God (Exod 33:12, 17). This relationship with God was the source of his identity and mission. As it happens, this is an apt description of repentance: to order our life and to understand ourselves in terms of our relationship with God.
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.
Dear One and All,
What is our image of God? I am sure that for each of us, lots of different pictures may come into our minds. For many, the name ‘God’ conjures up thoughts of: “Watch out, I am keeping an eye on you?” Is it an eye of love, or an eye for judgment? In the first reading today from the Old Testament, we hear about a God who sings! A God who laughs, and a God of Dance! (Zephaniah 3:18)
It can come as a bit of a surprise to know that we have a joyfully singing God! I must say that when I was growing up, tht notion never dawned on me; nobody talked about it, and I didn’t know much from the Scriptures either. Thanks to the tehn Fr.Robert Crotty CP, who inspired us with his teaching of Scripture, his eyes would fill up, when he spoke to us about our God of the dance…. When you think about it, it’s really a powerful metaphor; one that captures God’s joy in being what God is good at being, a God who saves! St.Paul writes, “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4), but today, we learn that it’s God who leads the way by doing it first with loud, joyful singing. God in fact delights in rescuing us from our fears, from our estrangement from each other, and in so doing; we have an experience of “salvation”. The words from Anne Murray’s Song: YOU NEEDED ME; can assist us in seeing the depth to which our God will go, to save us. She says: ‘You held my hand, when it was cold, when I was lost, you took me home, and you gave me hope, when I was at the end, and turned my lies back into truth again, You even called me friend…somehow you needed me.’ In this instance, the one who saves, in fact needs the one who is being saved!
Today is most certainly called: REJOICING SUNDAY! Or in Latin it is called: “Gaudete Sunday”, because there is a lot to be happy about, and that happiness can stay with us, live in us, and be contagious for others forever. This evening on Sydney Television, a lady won $100,000 in a Quiz show; she was over the moon with happiness, and so she should, but that kind of happiness is transient, it’s on the move, the money will eventually run out…..what will make this person happy again……win another $100,000; but we all know that generally won’t happen. That is not the kind of Joy or Rejoicing that we celebrate this Sunday, and deep down we all know that. However, it is beneficial for us to revisit the finer threads of God’s Word in the three Readings so that we can be renewed from within, so that the Advent invitation of Maranatha….Come, Lord Jesus, is refreshed, and refashioned in us, due to the evergreen invitations which are constantly within The Word, thus resulting in transforming responses, which mould us into the living image of Christ the Suffering Servant.
In the First Reading, it sounds like the Prophet is almost out of breath as he makes this pronouncement…It is more or less like a child-like expression of the real Wow factor! There is so much to say in a short time…..but look how it is promulgated? Many years ago, and for me it is almost Old Testament times when I was a young Seminarian in Melbourne Victoria, Australia, I remember that Carey Landry came on down to Australia for Liturgical Music Seminars. The Music that he put to some of these words from the first reading was a real blast! Some of you who are old enough will remember…….” And the Father will Dance!!!!!” it was fantastic for us because we were actually getting excited about these excitable Words…God’s Words. Why? ‘The Lord your God is in your midst!’ So we have nothing to fear! We certainly need to hear these Words again these days!………
Let’s not forget similar words spoken by St.Teresa of Avila:-
Nade te turbe, nade te espante: quien a Dios tiene nada le falta.
Nada te turbe, nada te espante: solo Dios basta.
Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you:
whoever has God lacks nothing.
Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you:
God alone is enough.
The Responsory needs a mention; notice that it is not a Psalm? But it is written like a song of praise! The Stanzas of this Song give the community, reasons for their response. May I suggest that where possible we could do well to pause after the first reading so that our personal response may bubble to the surface, and then with one voice with the community we mystically gather all our responses into one response…in this case, CRY OUT WITH JOY AND GLADNESS: FOR AMONG YOU IS THE GREAT AND HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL. Says it for us as the Living Body of Christ.
In the Second Reading, St.Paul pastorally encourages the young Church at Philippi to be happy, because there is a very profound reason for being happy. It is a timeless prayer! We are besieged so often with reasons not to be happy…In fact the Television News each night is full of reasons not to be happy……yet, it sells and gathers ratings. Every now and then we might see an extraordinary act of kindness from someone who does not count the cost….and in our heart of hearts, we say to ourselves….”Isn’t that great!!!!” with a smile on our face. We are to be people of optimism! It can be an ungainly habit to be a ‘knocker, as we say in Australia.’ That is someone who always looks for the negative side of any positive suggestion that is presented. Not only does that get on one’s nerves, as it does me, but these people are not generally happy and open folk. Here we see St.Paul with his tremendous understanding of human nature speaking about tolerance; the importance of praying with thanksgiving before one’s prayer is answered, and above all that true and unmistakable SHALOM ADONAI will guard and guide us. Why not take some time this week to spend just 10 mins away from Mobile Phones, Tablets, ipods and ipads, and anything else that has an i in front of it…to spend some we time, with the Lord, as you saunter down the Lanes of your Heart, with a sense of thanksgiving as you re discover the saving hand of God at work in your personal Gospel story.
Well, what are the words that God sings aloud in us? They are forgiveness, peace, love, gentleness, justice, integrity, and dignity. They are the fiery and cleansing Word of the Spirit that gives life, where there is none, destroys death wherever it reigns that strengthens weary hands, and gives victory to the oppressed. To each of us, this Word comes as freedom: the song to be shared with others, a song whose musical tones and harmony enable the best to come forth from each other. It is a song that enables people to feel “special”…it is a song that issues forth from us through our smiles, our words of genuine concern; it is a song that remembers those who may feel forgotten! We are never alone; as the Response to the Psalm says: ‘Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.’ (Isaiah 12:6)
To conclude, I have something special for us…this little reflection…..someone gave it to me, but I don’t know who composed it. In the Gospel this Sunday, the question is asked of John the Baptist…’ What must we do?’ This reflection might help us in answering the question.
ADVENT GARDENING…What must we do!
(Live well with the produce of your garden.)
First, plant four rows of peas.
Next to them plant three rows of Squash.
Then plant lettuce.
Let us be truthful.
Let us be loyal.
Let us be faithful.
Let us love one another.
No garden is complete without turnips.
Turn up for the Sunday Eucharist.
Turn up for Community Reconciliation.
Turn up for ‘Prayer’.
Turn up for Parish sharing & evaluation.
Turn up to celebrate with the community.
Turn up on time!
Turn off your Mobile ‘phone before you pray with the community!
God Bless you and your families, and may we never forget each other in Prayer. 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: God fills us with the expectation that we will encounter the Christ who dwells among us. We pray that we recognise that Christ.
That all members of the Church, baptised with the Holy Spirit and fire, point to the Christ who is in our midst.
That all peoples of the world fulfil the obligations of their state in life faithfully.. . [pause]
That the lonely and outcasts be welcomed in our midst.
That each of us define ourselves as those in relationship to Christ our saviour.
Leader: Mighty God, you sent John to announce the coming of your Son into the world: hear these our prayers that we might recognise his presence among us today. We ask this through that same 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.