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
- 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
A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh
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, relaxing around Bar-B-Q’s, sharing a Beer or Wine and even Coke! Lots of our Houses are plastered the outside and inside 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. Come, Lord Jesus!
So that being the case, let’s dig into God’s Word for the First Sunday of Advent. The Prophet Jeremiah speaks God’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, invites his 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: 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, Smartphone or PC, you can take your time in 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. Modern day Pastoral Letters sometimes read like a cold, calculating Government Gazettes; many of them are not pastoral but clinical and legalistic, more appropriate for BHP Executives. The spirituality of the Gospel is being affirmed and encouraged by the Apostle, within the fledgling Church. This is truly an 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. We MUST make time for it! 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 to your Word.” As the so called ‘silly season’ (I absolutely hate that name) is thrust upon us everywhere we go, we have to make a special effort to enjoy, and be nourished by the Advent season.
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, and Bombings in war torn places, or horrible surprise Terrorist attacks on innocent people. In face, it seems that the world’s population is ‘on edge’ all the times these days! These events can bring out the best/the divine elements within human nature, and it can bring out the worst in us as well! The state of ‘readiness’ and sensitivity which is brought to the surface as a by-product of natural disasters and war, ought to be a sign in us for something greater. We need to be on a spiritual ‘standby’ mode within us all the time. This ‘readiness’ for Mission and encountering Christ is the key to what Advent is all about! Advent puts us into auto focus, as we realise the need to be more alert in responding to Christ within our sisters and brothers, in His Word and Sacrament. The ‘Grace’ of this preparedness gives us the inner courage to live the internal integrity within our society, which 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. The weather is warm to hot, and there is a feeling of lethargy in the air! This is not a good combination, especially for Australians who are so ‘laid back’. 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. Advent has the inate power to transform all of us into the living and walking city of ‘the Lord is our integrity ’ The season to 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 time 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.
‘Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my Words will never pass away,’ says the Lord!
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