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Contents: Volume 2 - 1st SUNDAY of ADVENT
November 27, 2022

 

  1st

SUNDAY

ADVENT

(A)

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Dennis Keller with Charlie

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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Advent 1 (A) 2022

Our readings this First Sunday of Advent call us to reflect Jesus to the world by being light to the world. The first reading from the Book of Isaiah helps us see what the world should be like now and what it will be like in the "days to come". Can we envision a place of total inclusivity, peace, and where people will walk and be visibly identified as instructed by the Lord?

I do not think that our world is even close to that vision right now. Perhaps your part of the world is "not so bad", or your neighborhood, workplace, parish, family or your own heart. The truth is that in every place, we fall short of where we should be.

Our second reading from the Letter to the Romans gives us pretty straight-forward directions as to how to "conduct ourselves properly" at least in some personal aspects. We do need also to to focus on being more inclusive and peaceful, however, finding specific ways to counteract the violence that seems to divide people simply because of basic differences.

The Gospel reading according to Matthew reminds us to stay awake and attend to these things now, not later. I think that is the Advent message that we all need to follow a bit more closely these days, more than the urge to delve into the commercial Christmas message of the secular world. What people really need is person-to-person caring contact, not "more" of one thing or another. As we prepare for the birth of Jesus, let us prepare our hearts and surroundings by sharing light in areas of darkness, sadness, and division so that ALL can embrace a bit of the reality now of what the Lord has in mind.

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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First Sunday of Advent November 27, 2022

Isaiah 2:1-5; Responsorial Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14; Gospel Acclamation Ps 85:8; Matthew 24:37-44

The words of Isaiah, those powerful, hope filled words! ‘They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again." From Isaiah’s mouth to God’s ears and a guide for those who act as leaders for peoples. However, looking at the history of Juda and Jerusalem, these words appear inconsequential. Again, Job’s cry to God resounds: "Where is your mercy, O God?" That plaintive cry wrestled from the breast of every human not tied into the military industrial complex resounds repeatedly through out human history. Will we never get to truth, to community, to dignity and worth for every person? Will we ever beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks? Doesn’t look like that’s about to happen any time soon.

For certain there is this about human experience: we wait anxiously for peace, for prosperity, for fullness of life for ourselves, our loved ones, and - if we’re at all mature in our thinking -- all persons. We wait with a fear the promised of Isaiah will never come to pass. Forever, there are wars and rumors of war. There is drought and flood., There is darkness and there is light.

In this Sunday’s Scriptures, there remains an air of expectancy. Ancient historians characterize this period when Jesus came as a time of great expectations. Several cultures spoke of a Son of Man arriving on the clouds, bringing a new beginning. For the Hebrew peoples this would be the Messiah. Everybody had their own expectations about what this Messiah would be like and what the Messiah would do and accomplish. The reading from Isaiah paints a moving picture of all nations ascending to the house of the Lord on earth – that Mount Sion which housed the temple, where God stayed with his people. All nations would come. Our Responsorial psalm – repeated from the Solemnity of Christ the King last Sunday, is an ascent song. It makes more of an impact if we imagine a long trail of people of all ages and descriptions walking up the mountain path to the city Jerusalem where the Temple was built. That song is a psalm those walkers would sing in unison as they walked. If we imagine that scene, we’d imagine ourselves walking with them to the House of the Lord.

Paul’s letter to the Romans is a shout – no mere exhortation – a rousing shout to be ready. Avoid wild revelry as is common after an athletic victory. Such orgies were a distraction and blinded persons from the coming presence of Jesus’ second coming when all would have been consummated. Avoid drunkenness which is a disgraceful thing as good sense disappears when one is drunk. Avoid infidelity in one’s marriage, and promiscuity outside of marriage lusting for a forbidden bed. Avoid shamefulness – or rather the lost of shame where behavior is without any fear of being found out for evil deeds. Avoid unbridled competition that seeks the destruction of another’s business, home, family, and reputation. Avoid jealousy and envy. Jealousy allows the heart to hate another’s success or eminence. Envy seeks to steal what another has in goods, reputation, or status. Avoid, avoid, avoid! Paul starts this litany of avoidances with the warning that the Second Coming of Jesus is at hand. He seems to have miscalculated the timing. It was the common view of early Christians that Jesus was just about to come – today or tomorrow. We don’t know when – that’s God’s business and we can’t presume to speculate about when God will call all accounts to audit. The message is to be ready. Don’t allow the things of the world to distract you.

The Gospel continues the narrative. Jesus speaks about Noah and the flood. He doesn’t say or imply those others were sinners. It just they hadn’t given thought to the impending doom. Don’t be distracted so much by dealings in the world as to ignore and forget about the day of the Lord which signals the Second Coming of Jesus to claim his own.

The lines about two men working in the field and two women grinding grain has always been confusing. What does it mean to be taken and left? The ones taken are those who are prepared. They live and work and connect to the world but continue to be aware of the Day of the Lord that signals the second coming.

How fitting we begin our season of longing, of expectation with these readings. Accept and live the longing for the second coming of Jesus. We continue living in the world, continue earning a living, raise our families, participate in social, political. and religious events but always aware that Jesus is coming. Perhaps it’s not the second coming. We ought to be looking for God’s presence, of Jesus walking among us in the persons of others, especially the poor, the infirm, the aged – all those people who live on the margins of society. We should not overlook the Christ in our families, knowing that each person who alive is living because of the "spark" the spirit that makes us each unique. The dignity and worth that we recognize in others keeps us aware of the coming of the Christ.

It is certainly a wonder that in the northern hemisphere that Christianity took over the celebration of the return of light from the pagans. We claim that Jesus is the light of the world. In that light we see all of life and its contents in a way that differs from those whose focus is only on the ways of the world.

Dennis Keller with Charlie dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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GOD’S WAKE-UP CALLS: 1ST SUNDAY ADVENT A

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

The story is told of three devils who are preparing to depart for Earth to begin their careers of deceiving people with their lies, tricks, and spin. Before taking off, each has an interview with Satan, the chief devil. Says Satan to the first young apprentice: ‘And how do you plan to deceive people and destroy them?’ He answers: ‘I plan to convince them that there is no God.’ ‘And what about you?’ says Satan to the second devil, ‘how do you plan to deceive people?’ He answers: ‘I plan to convince people that there is no hell.’ ‘And what about you?’ says Satan to the third devil. He answers: ‘My approach is going to be less intellectual. I simply plan to convince people that they have plenty of time, to prepare both for death and the Second Coming of Jesus.’ Satan smiles at this and says: ‘Do that, my son, and you will deceive many. They’re sure to be sucked in by that!’

As today we begin the First Sunday of Advent, the first Sunday of our new Church year, we note that there is much in common between this Sunday and New Year’s Day, January 1st. Both focus on time and how we spend it. Today, then, let us focus on time in two ways: - 1. how best to use the time left to us to prepare for our death, and 2. how best to use the time remaining to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus when, at the end of all time, he will return to repair, transform, and complete our world.

Both kinds of waiting involve the same kind of effort, the effort to be watchful, on the alert, and living in the light of God. This effort is mentioned in all three bible readings today. In our First Reading from Isaiah, we hear it put this way: ‘O House of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.’ In the Second Reading Paul writes to the Romans: ‘Brothers and Sisters! You know "the time" has come: you must wake up now … let us give up all the things we prefer to do under cover of the dark; let us arm ourselves and appear in the light.’ In the gospel Jesus says to his followers: ‘Stay awake, because … [I am] coming at an hour you do not expect.’

‘Walking in the light of the Lord’ includes longing for peace, praying for peace, and working for peace. Isaiah was writing about eight hundred years before Christ, when his people and their lands had been smashed by the Assyrians. They were tempted to surrender, to just let their conqueror take over their country. But Isaiah tells them that this path is not the way to take. Put aside your plans for a military solution, he advises, connect yourselves once again to God, and revive your trust in God. Have nothing at all to do with war. On the contrary, take the sure path to peace and prosperity. So, hammer your swords into ploughshares and your spears into sickles, and turn the battlefields around you into the garden of God. Then, as a nation at peace, become a light of hope to all the people surrounding you.

What about us? In a world still marked by conflict, war, and terror, how can we live out God’s vision of light, peace, and love for the world? We will indeed hammer our swords into ploughshares this Advent season by e.g.:

  • - removing violent words from our speech;
  • - not watching violent movies and television shows;
  • - encouraging children to avoid computer games involving the destruction of life and property;
  • - being reconciled with anyone we’ve been fighting, and with anyone from whom we’ve become estranged;
  • - praying for the wisdom to become peacemakers and reconcilers wherever we find anger, resentment, or hatred;
  • - praying for the healing and recovery of innocent civilians suffering the sadness, grief, death, and destruction stemming from so much violence, most recently in Myanmar and Ukraine;
  • - giving our support to individuals and groups working for sincere and lasting reconciliation with our aboriginal brothers and sisters, and to those working for just outcomes for refugees and asylum-seekers.

Paul names drunkenness and sexual misbehaviour as things that happen ‘under the cover of darkness’. What was happening in social life in Paul’s time is still happening today. So, over the weeks leading up to Christmas, you and I may need to be on our guard against getting drawn into the excess, madness, and irresponsibility, that happen sometimes at Christmas parties.

Jesus uses the image of a sudden, unexpected home invasion, to say that his ‘second coming’ to earth at the end of time will be just as sudden and just as unexpected. Even though two thousand years have passed since he first taught this, his warning remains real and relevant. ‘Stay awake,’ he is still saying, ‘seize the day, be ready, be prepared, by living in the light of my teachings. I am heading your way, even though you know neither the day nor the hour.’ Sound advice from Jesus, surely, for meeting our Saviour, whenever and wherever he comes for us!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

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