The ADVENT Season -2022
Advent has a twofold character, for it is a time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas, in which the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity is remembered, and likewise a time when, by remembrance of this minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ’s Second Coming
at the end of time.
For these two reasons, Advent is a period of devout and expectant delight.
Each Gospel reading has a distinctive theme:
First Sunday — the Lord’s coming at the end of time,
Second & Third — John the Baptist,
Fourth — events immediately preparatory to the Lord’s birth.
First Sunday of Advent
The liturgy for today directs our minds to the Last Day, the Second Coming of Christ, the Day of Judgement. We look on these events as a qreat gathering day of all people. St Paul tells us how to live in the meantime:
'be fully awake and cost off the works of darkness.'
Gospel: Matthew 24:37-44
vs.37 Jesus said to his disciples:
‘”As it was in Noah’s day, so will it be when the Son of Man comes.
vs.38 For in those days before the Flood people were eating, drinking, taking wives, taking husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark,
vs.39 and they suspected nothing till the Flood came and swept all away. It will be like this when the Son of Man comes.
vs.40 Then of two men in the fields one is taken, one left;
vs.41 of two women at the millstone grinding, one is taken, one left.
vs.42 So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming.
vs.43 You may be quite sure of this that if the householder had known at what time of the night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not have allowed anyone to break through the wall of his house.
vs.44 Therefore, you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
We have three sets of homily notes to choose from.
Please scroll down the page to read them.
Michel DeVerteuil : Michel, a Trinidadian Holy Ghost Priest, fmr director of the Centre of Biblical renewal .
Thomas O'Loughlin: Thomas is on the theology faculty of Nottingham University
Donal Neary SJ: Donal is editor of The Sacred Heart Messenger
Michel de Verteuil
Lectio Divina with the Sunday Gospels - Year A
This passage comprises several teachings of Jesus, all on the general theme of waiting. However, each teaching forms a unit on its own, so begin by identifying which section you want to meditate on.
Verses 37 to 39 describe what happens ‘when the Son of Man comes’, the story of the Flood being the model. Make sure you get the precise point of the teaching. It is not that the people were bad or immoral – that is not the point Jesus is making. He is stressing only the suddenness and unexpectedness of the coming - like a brilliant light in the midst of confusing darkness
Verses 40 & 41 are another description of the coming but the point here is quite different: it is the indiscriminate way in which some are taken and some left. Be creative in interpreting the meaning of ‘taken’ and ‘left’, starting of course from your experience.
Verses 42 and 44 are two exhortations of Jesus; they are nearly identical although the metaphor in each is slightly different - ‘Stay awake’ in vs. 42 and ‘Stand ready’ in vs. 44. The stress is slightly different in each too, ‘you do not know’ in vs. 42
and ‘an hour you do not expect’ in vs. 44. In your meditation be faithful to the exact text.
Verse 43 is a parable which you should take on its own. Enter into the parable as it stands, in particular the metaphor of the burglar who breaks through the wall of the house. Your meditation will help you feel for this image of God’s unexpected coming.
Lord, we remember a time in our lives when disaster struck:
- we lost what seemed a secure job;
- we were betrayed by a spouse or a friend;
- we fell again into an evil habit we thought we had finished with;
- there was a sudden death in the family.
We were like people in the days before the Flood
– eating, drinking, taking wives, taking husbands,
right up to the day when Noah went into the ark.
We too suspected nothing till this terrible flood came and swept all away.
We recognise now that it was a coming of the Son of Man,
a moment when you showed us how vulnerable we are,
but also when we felt your presence with us.
Lord, it is strange how life turns out.
We remember when we were starting on our careers,
with members of our family, our friends at school.
Today, years after, some of us have done well and others have not
– in marriage, at work, in health, in spiritual growth.
Much of it was chance.
How true it is that in life two men are working the fields,
one is taken and one left; of two women at the millstone grinding,
one is taken and the other is left.
Lord, into your hands we commend ourselves.
Lord, forgive us, church people, that we usurp your authority,
presuming to pass judgement on who is fit to enter your kingdom,
as if we could look at two men working in the fields and decide which will be taken and which one left,
or two women at the millstone grinding and decide which will be taken and which one left.
Lord, things were going well in our church community.
We thought that we had everything under control.
Then one day trouble appeared again and the community was torn apart.
You had sent us Jesus to teach us that we must stay awake,
like a householder who knows that there are burglars
always hovering around and they can break through the wall of his house
at any moment.
“Nobody said that the search for a lasting peace, a peace that is based on justice, would be easy, but that does not mean that we should not go on trying.” ... Bishop Fortich of the Philippines
Lord, we pray today for those who are striving for peace
in countries that are torn by war.
Let them work with hope,
like people who know that at some hour they do not expect the Son of Man will come.
“The quest for truth is an everlasting process from which civilised people never graduate.” ...President Hassanali, Trinidad Divali, 1989
Lord, help us, in our search for truth, to stay awake,
never thinking that we are secure
because at any time we might find that our house has been broken into,
never despairing because you will show yourself at an hour we do not expect.
Lord, we thank you that when we were foolish, irresponsible or stubborn,
some people did not give up on us but stayed awake,
confident that we would return at an hour they did not expect.
3. Thomas O'Loughlin,
Liturgical Resources for Advent and Christmas
Sisters and brothers, today is the first day of the season of Advent. In four weeks’ time we will celebrate Christmas and the coming of the Son of God among us as our prophet, our priest, and our king. But to know who Jesus is, we must recall the faith of the people who looked out for him, we must look to the writings of the Old Testament to see what they say about the promise of God to visit his people — and during these coming weeks we will read much from the prophet Isaiah; we must recall those who prepared the way for his coming — and we will recall the work of John the Baptist; and we will reflect on how the Christ comes to birth in our world through our faith and discipleship — and we will remember Mary whose faith and acceptance of the invitation of God inaugurated the whole Christian era. Let us stop and in silence note that this moment is an important turning point in our year.
1. The time we are now entering is for most people ‘the run up to Christmas’. It is that for us too, but it also has a far more serious side.
To say that ‘The Lord is coming’ or to pray ‘Come Lord Jesus’ (maranatha) is part of the most basic Christian confession of faith: we are a people who are looking forward, who believe we are on a journey, a pilgrimage, towards a destination.
This destination is an encounter with the Lord, and it is variously described as ‘the Second Coming’, the time of ‘the return of the Son of Man’, when he ‘comes again to judge the living and the dead’, of ‘the Day of the Lord’.
Indeed, we believe this journey toward the Day of the Lord is something that responds to a most basic instinct implanted within our humanity by the Creator: ‘You,O God have made us for yourself and our hearts are disquieted until they rest in You’ (St Augustine, Confessiones 1,1,1).
And, it is the Christian confession that we encounter God in his Christ. So part of our reflection in Advent is on the end-times and our encounter with the Lord when he comes again. So, in short, we are a people looking forward to the Day of the Lord’s Second Coming. And this is the time of year when our cycle of ritual puts these thoughts, as in today’s gospel, before us.
2. To declare that we are waiting for when Christ ‘will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead’ (the creed), tells us nothing about the nature of the final judgment.
3. Since the first generation of Christians there has been a core belief that the time the people of Israel spent waiting for the coming of the promised Messiah is structurally similar to the time Christians spend waiting for the return of the Lord. Israel waiting for the first coming parallels the church waiting for the second coming. It is this logic of antetype and type that explains why we recall the waiting for the Christ in the first readings during Advent; while we then read about the Second Coming in the gospel readings in Advent. The common element between Israel and the church is that of waiting on the Christ to come; the difference is that Israel was waiting for the first coming, the church is waiting for the last coming. What Isaiah expected the Day of the Lord to be like is what we read in the first reading. ‘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.’
4. If we want to know what the judgement will be like at the Second Coming, we look to the message of the Christ in his first coming. Many then thought that the Day of the Lord would be the ‘great crunch’ — a warrior messiah that would dole out vengeance and wrath. Instead the Lord came as the re-builder of Israel, the one who brought healing, who called disciples to love God and neighbour, and established reconciliation with the Father. This is the nature of the judgement we now wait for and proclaim. With truth we can call this, amidst the panics and fears that are always said to be on the horizon of the future, the good news. The Day of the Lord is not the ‘great crunch’, but the day of peace: ‘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.’
The secular sense of hope, which is most accurately expressed as wishful thinking, lacks surety or certainty. To be hopeful in the secular sense is to articulate a desire or a wish that may or may not be realised. For example, when we say, ‘We hope that our business will not become bankrupt’, our wish is for success in business but we cannot be certain that there will be success, especially this year with all its turmoil.
In sharp contrast, Christian hope is a virtue and it expresses certainty based on God’s promise to be faithful to us in all circumstances. For instance, when we say, ‘We hope in the resurrection of the dead’, we are not simply engaging in wishful thinking. We are articulating and communicating a certainty that is based on our faith.
Light for the journey
In faith and in hope we begin Advent this week with its first candle. With Mary and Joseph we wait for Christ. The candles are lighting the way for them - and for us! The coming light of Jesus lights both our waiting and our journey in life. May it shine the light of Christ into the darknesses of the year since last Christmas - bereavement, illness, depression, disappointments?
We prepare best for Christmas by spreading this light. The way to celebrate Christmas is rooted in our following of the gospel. Among our ways are care for the poor, some daily prayer, and the wish to forgive and be forgiven.
All the different images of Christmas prepare us for this birth
- the carols we hear and sing,
- the lights in the streets,
- the star over the church and the ways we pray with anticipation and remember other Christmas days with joy.
Everything of this month can remind us of God. The Christmas trees, lights, cards, carols, parties, Santa hats, the houses lit up with reindeer and all the things we see about Christmas, all remind us that God is near.
We welcome this light in the spirit of Pope Francis:
'Those who have opened their hearts to God's love, heard his voice and received his light, cannot keep this gift to themselves.
Since faith is hearing and seeing, it is also handed on as word and light' (The Light of Faith, 37).
Spend a little time this Advent to remember some people or family memories that make you grateful for Christmas. Thank God for these in your own world.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Come into our world of gold and grey,
which needs you badly.