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"FIRST IMPRESSIONS"

1st SUNDAY OF ADVENT –A– December 1, 2019

Isaiah 2: 1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13: 11-14; Matthew 24: 37-44

by Jude Siciliano, OP

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Dear Preachers:

AN END OF THE YEAR APPEAL

In our liturgical celebrations and daily prayer we frequently pray for vocations.

I live in a novitiate community of the Southern Dominican Province, USA.

I can say that I have seen visible evidence that our prayers have been heard, for we have two vibrant novices spending their first year in the Order with us.

Please join us in praying for them as they discern their vocations.

"First Impressions" is a free weekly preaching ministry. If you can help support this ministry, as well as help with the training of our novices, we would appreciate it. Please pray for us, as we do for you, our benefactors, each day.

    Send tax deductible checks to:

Dominican Fathers of Irving

3150 Vince Hagan Dr.

Irving, Texas 75062-4736

Or: For an online donation go to: https://www.preacherexchange.com/donations.htm

Thank you.


Welcome to the latest email recipients of "First Impressions" the parishioners of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Manhattan.


The first Sunday of Advent begins a new liturgical year when the Sunday gospel readings will be taken primarily from Matthew. It is strange then that the gospel reading for this Sunday is from one of the last chapters in Matthew. Thus, the apocalyptic theme of the past weeks continues as we enter Advent. Apocalyptic messages are about the final coming of the Lord, for whom we are waiting. So, Advent begins, not with in anticipation of Christ’s first coming at his birth, but with a look to his return and a call to be attentive now to his presence.

Our first reading from Isaiah is one of seven visions the prophet shared with the people of Judah. He looks to God’s future coming to establish peace… "In days to come." What has God planned for the people? There will be peace among nations ("all nations") and prosperity, as people turn away from conflict to peaceful relations. In the eighth century BCE Isaiah was trying to warn the people of Judah, in the south, of the imminent dangers of assault from the Assyrians, who had already enslaved Israel in the north. He was urging the people to remain faithful to God and, to reinforce his message, he offered them a vision of peace and unity, not just for them, but for all the peoples of the world.

Isaiah stirs us as we hear his promise for a future when nation shall "beat their swords into plowshares." The prophecy can sound like a mere pipe dream, a wistful hope for better times. If that is all the prophet is saying then this lovely reading, with its poetic images, would make a good discussion in a high school literature class. But Isaiah’s prophecy gave the people hope and reassurance that, despite appearances and the mockery of their enemies, God had not forgotten them.

We can pause here and respond to Isaiah’s invitation, "Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain." Climbing a mountain takes effort, perseverance and determination. Isaiah invites us to acknowledge the darkness of our personal lives, as well as that of our church, overshadowed these days by the horrible accounts of sexual abuse. Stirred by Isaiah’s prophecy we turn to God for forgiveness and healing. We will indeed have to "climb the Lord’s mountain" and such a climb, with what it asks us and our church to do, is difficult. In fact, we are not capable of doing ll this on our own.

Isaiah did not think that mere human effort alone could bring about the peace he was visioning. Today’s halfhearted and frustrated efforts at peace by international leaders confirms Isaiah’s vision that only with God can we accomplish God’s call to live in peace with one another. The prophet was insistent that peace could only happen when people turn to God for instruction, live under God’s judgment and respond to God’s arbitration. "God shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples."

Isaiah invites us to "walk in the light of the Lord," – a light which the Holy Spirit pours out on us during these weeks of preparation for the Lord’s coming. We will have to wait till later in Advent to shift our attention to the birth of Christ. On this Sunday we are asked to reflect on his "second coming." Not just reflect, but live in ways that show we expect his return and are doing what we must to prepare for him when he does come. If we are a person who tends to put things off – and who isn’t? – the gospel has an urgency about it, that should stir us to action now. The images warn us that the day is coming that will test our complacency. It will be a day of judgment, for it will reveal how we have put confidence in what is not true, lasting or secure.

What do we need to do to be prepared for Christ’s return? Our future hope calls for action now. Advent is saying to us, "Wake up! Don’t let the time drift by." Are there specific changes we need to make now in our lives? What patterns and ways have been shown to be disruptive, wasteful, and distractions for Advent people looking for Christ in our daily lives? Jesus calls us to constant vigilance as he says, "Therefore, stay awake!" So, let us make our preparation for Christ’s coming very specific and daily. We can try doing that by searching for Christ each day, because he is already present to us. The resurrection stories show that Christ is alive and walks among us, often in unrecognizable ways.

We take our clues from the Gospels. They point us to his presence and remind us how he feeds us in word and sacrament at this table. Having been nourished by these sacramental encounters with Christ, we go forth "prepared" and "awake" to meet him in the poor and the needy of our world. As Advent begins we recommit ourselves to seeing Christ already present among us and we stay awake and prepare ourselves to be alert when he comes at last "in those days."

Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/120119.cfm

JUSTICE BULLETIN BOARD

Let us walk in the light of the Lord!

Isaiah 2: 5

As we begin the Advent season, with its sometimes frantic activity, it is good to take a step back and challenge ourselves to prepare for something truly great. How has the light of faith shaped how you have celebrated Christmas in the past? How do you want to express the light of your faith this Christmas? By nurturing our faith through welcoming the stranger and service done in love, we can take to heart what Pope Francis states in his first encyclical, "The Light of Faith," that faith is "a light coming from the future and opening before us vast horizons which guide us beyond our isolated selves towards the breath of communion. We come to see that faith does not dwell in shadow and gloom; it is a light for our darkness" (4). We recognize that we come from others, we belong to others, and that our lives are enlarged by our encounter with others--we do not live in isolation and we cannot grow in faith in isolation. Transformed by the Spirit of love that we have learned from Jesus’ example, we can truly radiate one light on our wounded world. With this link to love, the light of faith is concretely placed at the service of justice, law, and peace, thereby, helping us to build societies toward a future of hope. There are many thoughts like this in this beautiful teaching document from Pope Francis.

However, we cannot activate the fullness of this light of faith, this lamp of love, if we only act routinely or out of obligation. God loves with abandon; all one has to do is spend a day in nature to realize this. We should love with abandon also, especially if we can help build a better world by doing so.

May the word "welcome" inspire you to invite the light of Christ to come more fully into your life and may you welcome the stranger you meet along the way. Consider reading sections of Pope Francis’ encyclical and ponder how you can become a lamp for someone else’s path. Allow a little more time of prayer conversation with our Lord and choose to decline a seasonal demand to make time to bring hope to the disadvantaged. Think about your capacity to love selflessly.

Have a joy-filled Advent journey together with your faith community!

To read Pope Francis' encyclical: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20130629_enciclica-lumen-fidei.html

---Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS

Director of Social Justice Ministries

Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh, NC

FAITH BOOK

Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.

From today’s Gospel reading:

Jesus said to his disciples:

"Therefore stay awake!

For you do not know on which day your Lord will come."

Reflection:

As we begin Advent we are asked to reflect on Christ’s "second coming." Not just reflect, but live in ways that show we expect his return and are doing what we must to prepare for him when he does come. If we are people who tend to put things off the gospel has an urgency about it, to stir us to action now.

So, we ask ourselves:

  • What disruptive and wasteful patterns must we address during this Advent time of preparation for Christ?
  • In the spirit of Advent how and where are we looking for Christ in our daily lives?

POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES

"One has to strongly affirm that condemnation to the death penalty is an inhuman measure that humiliates personal dignity, in whatever form it is carried out."

---Pope Francis

Inmates on death row are the most forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I post in this space several inmates’ names and addresses. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of them to let them know we have not forgotten them. If you like, tell them you heard about them through North Carolina’s, "People of Faith Against the Death Penalty." If the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.

Please write to:

  • Andrew D. Ramseur #0972488 (On death row since 6/8/2010)
  • Stephen Buckner #1062462 (11/8/2010)
  • Timothy Hartford, Jr. #0172431 (11/19/2010)

----Central Prison, 4285 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4285

For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network: http://catholicsmobilizing.org/resources/cacp/

On this page you can sign "The National Catholic Pledge to End the Death Penalty." Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty: http://www.pfadp.org/

DONATIONS

"First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at jboll@opsouth.org.

If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

St. Albert Priory 3150 Vince Hagan Drive Irving, Texas 75062-4736

Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars. Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation: https://www.PreacherExchange.com/donations.htm

ANNOUNCEMENTS

1. We have compiled Four CDS for sale:

  • Individual CDs for each Liturgical Year, A, B or C
  • One combined CD for "Liturgical Years A, B and C."

If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.

You can order the CDs by going to our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.com and clicking on the "First Impressions" CD link on the left.

2. "Homilías Dominicales" —These Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily scriptures are written by Dominican sisters and friars. If you or a friend would like to receive these reflections drop a note to fr. John Boll, O.P. at Jboll@opsouth.org.

3. Our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.org - Where you will find "Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First Impressions" and "Homilías Dominicales," as well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and other material pertinent to preaching.

4. "First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at the above email address.


Thank you and blessings on your preaching,

fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

Jude Siciliano, OP - Click to send email.

 

St. Albert the Great Priory of Texas

3150 Vince Hagan Drive

Irving, Texas 75062-4736

frjude@judeop.org

972-438-1626


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