First Sunday of Advent

In these days after Thanksgiving, our thoughts may naturally focus on our Christmas preparations. Certainly in our secular world we have the aggressive promotion of sales. The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday. It is famous for its discounts.

In all of this Christmas preparation, which can be exciting and fun and full of enthusiasm, it might be easy for us to overlook what begins today. Today is the first Sunday of Advent.

This is a special liturgical season. That means it is a special time of the year designated for us to focus our prayer and worship on a particular aspect of our relationship with God. We focus on the Coming of the Lord in Advent.

Quite naturally we think of the First Coming of the Lord, as we celebrate the Feast of the Nativity (a.k.a. Christmas). This is an event that profoundly changed all of human history. This is when our God became man. This is when our God fulfilled all the promises of the Old Testament. This is when our God revealed Himself fully as one of us so that we could understand as best as possible that we belong to God our Father.

However during Advent, we also celebrate the Second Coming of Christ. In fact as Advent is four weeks long, the first three weeks focus our attention on the Second Coming of Christ. This is what we are currently waiting for as Christians.

We are waiting for the return in glory of Christ Our Lord. It will not be like the First Coming. Our Lord will return in glory accompanied by the angels. These are the very words of Jesus as He quotes the prophecy of the Old Testament from Daniel. We heard Jesus refer to His coming in glory in last Sunday’s Gospel.

This Second Coming is the promise of Christ. To use the fancy theological term, it is the Parousia. It does beg the question that if Jesus has not returned in 2000 years, when will it occur?

We hear in today’s Gospel Jesus telling us to be alert and fully awake. This does not mean one’s state of physical consciousness. Rather it goes deeper in its meaning. To be awake in the Bible means to be alert and attentive to one’s relationship with God. To be awake means to be fully active, fully participating in God‘s invitation to live as His children.

Throughout the ages so many have called out with the sentiment as in our first reading from the prophet Isaiah, “Lord where are you?“ “Lord – we need you to return in glory so that all may believe.”

One may be tempted to despair and dismissal of the promise of the Second Coming. One may be tempted to think that if it has not happened by now it will not happen ever.

And yet if one pays close attention to the words of Jesus in the Gospels, it is easy to see the message that He delivers more than any other. “The kingdom of God is at hand.” This means that the transformation of earth into heaven is happening. It certainly was happening by the very birth, ministry, and message of Jesus. It was certainly happening by His life and death, Crucifixion and Resurrection.

After the Resurrection, Jesus stayed teaching and preaching in glorified form for 40 days. Then He ascended to heaven. Soon thereafter He sent the Holy Spirit to the Apostles. This is the feast of Pentecost.

If we look at the course of these events we see God‘s plan unfolding. God came as one of us in the person of Jesus and showed us what we are to do. He then handed on His ministry and mission to those who follow Him. In today’s Gospel, Jesus provides the image of the master who leaves home and places the servants in charge.

It is the work of Christians to continue the work of Christ. That means we are to continue to transform earth into heaven. We are to continue to make the kingdom of God at hand. To say it more plainly, we are to make heaven a reality on earth by how we speak and how we act.

To answer the question of when Christ will return, let us contemplate on how much more work we need to do in order to transform earth into heaven. If Christ has handed His mission and work on to those who follow Him, how much have we done since the Ascension 2000 years ago? Look at the state of our world.

Could it be that Christ is waiting for us? Could it be that He is waiting for us to bring about a profound transformation of our earthly reality? We are called to live as citizens of heaven here and now

How can we make heaven on earth? How do we transform our daily experience? It seems a very tall order for any one person. And yet such activity begins with each individual. Each act of kindness, each act of care, each act of patience, each act of gratitude all usher in the kingdom of God.

In last Sunday’s Gospel, we heard a virtual blueprint of how we can care for one another. We feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, visit the lonely, sick and imprisoned, clothe the naked. Jesus tells us that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters we do for Him

Today on the first Sunday of Advent, we are called to usher in the Second Coming. We are called to transform earth into heaven. We are called to live each day as citizens of heaven. We are called to make the kingdom of God at hand.

What will you do today for someone else? What will you do today to care for another? How will you express love and consideration for those in your life today?

How we answer these questions determines how we bring about the kingdom of God. Together let us celebrate Advent. Let us celebrate that we belong to the Lord. Let us celebrate that we are called to transform earth into heaven – and if we do these things, we will make ourselves ready for His return. Our spirits will be awake and alive in the Lord.

Is 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah

You, LORD, are our father,
   our redeemer you are named forever.
Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways,
   and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?
Return for the sake of your servants,
   the tribes of your heritage.
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
   with the mountains quaking before you,
while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for,
   such as they had not heard of from of old.
No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you
   doing such deeds for those who wait for him.
Would that you might meet us doing right,
   that we were mindful of you in our ways!
Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful;
   all of us have become like unclean people,
   all our good deeds are like polluted rags;
we have all withered like leaves,
   and our guilt carries us away like the wind.
There is none who calls upon your name,
   who rouses himself to cling to you;
for you have hidden your face from us
   and have delivered us up to our guilt.
Yet, O LORD, you are our father;
   we are the clay and you the potter:
   we are all the work of your hands.

Ps 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19

R. (4) Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
   from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power,
   and come to save us.

R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

Once again, O LORD of hosts,
   look down from heaven, and see;
take care of this vine,
   and protect what your right hand has planted
   the son of man whom you yourself made strong.

R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

May your help be with the man of your right hand,
   with the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
   give us new life, and we will call upon your name.

R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

1 Cor 1:3-9

We wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

A reading from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians

Brothers and sisters:
   Grace to you and peace from God our Father
   and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God always on your account
   for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus,
   that in him you were enriched in every way,
   with all discourse and all knowledge,
   as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you,
   so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift
   as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He will keep you firm to the end,
   irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is faithful,
   and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son,
   Jesus Christ our Lord.

Ps 85:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Show us, Lord, your love;
and grant us your salvation.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Mk 13:33-37

Be watchful! You do not know when the Lord of the house is coming.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.
It is like a man traveling abroad.
He leaves home and places his servants in charge,each with his own work,
and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.
Watch, therefore;
you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,
whether in the evening, or at midnight,
or at cockcrow, or in the morning.
May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.
What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”

The Gospel of the Lord…

Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

2 thoughts on “First Sunday of Advent

  1. This was a tough Advent for us in the Diocese of Rockford and for the Catholic Church in the United States with these COVID restrictions. We are grateful for our parish priest and for your writings Andrew Hougan.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We pray to be alive and awake to continue the work of Christ – by every priest, pastor and member of the Catholic Church and by all people. God Our Father – bless us. Bless the Diocese of Rockford. Bless Andrew Hougan and his ministry and message. Bless the Catholic faith and increase vocations to the priesthood.

    Liked by 1 person

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