November 26, 2021

First Sunday of Advent / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionWith this First Sunday of Advent, the Church begins a new liturgical year. As such, the readings for Mass on Sundays in the year to come will be from the “C” cycle of the Lectionary, the collection of biblical texts used by the Church for readings at Mass.

The first reading for this weekend is from the Book of Jeremiah, written when times were hard for God’s people. The dynasty formed by King David had disappeared, extinguished by infighting and internal intrigue. Its collapse had deep religious implications.

God had a covenant with David and his successors. Their task was both to govern and to keep the nation of Israel faithful to God.

With the end of the unified monarchy under David and his heirs, no other figure or authority had God’s commission to exercise the role of strengthening the national bond with the Almighty.

More ominously, it seemed as if the instrument selected by God for this purpose, namely kings of the Davidic dynasty, yielded to pressures and temptations. Obviously too often the monarchs forgot their obligation to preserve the people’s relationship with God.

Despite these circumstances, Jeremiah promised that indeed God will endure. His justice will prevail. The people must not lose faith.

For its second reading, the Church presents a passage from St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Thessalonians, modern Saloniki, in Greece. The reading calls upon the Christians of Thessalonica to love each other. The call was simple, but not easily achieved given human nature. Christians must love all, no exceptions.

Paul insists that the Lord soon will return to Earth in triumph as the great judge. It will be a revolutionary moment. All evil will be subdued. Good and truth will reign supreme. Jesus will reign.

Christians should prepare themselves for this great event by loving others in the model of Jesus, who loved all humanity, even to the point of sacrifice on Calvary.

St. Luke’s Gospel furnishes the last reading. When reading or hearing a reading from any of the Gospels, it is important to realize that the Gospels were written decades after Jesus had ascended to heaven.

This does not mean that the Gospels are fiction. Rather, each evangelist saw Christ and the events in his life with his own perception and in the light of events and attitudes experienced by each when the Gospel was written. The message of Jesus is timeless, but it must be applied to real life moments.

When Luke’s Gospel was written, the tide was turning against Christians. They were in danger.

The author of St. Luke’s Gospel recalled words of Jesus to encourage and embolden his disciples. Come what may, the Lord will return and be victorious over all evil. The forces of darkness will be laid low.

Do not weaken. Stay with Jesus.

Reflection

Advent often is described as a time to prepare for Christmas. It is this, but it has two other purposes. It exists to enable us to reform ourselves, so that we can worthily meet the Lord when he returns.

Finally, it calls us to prepare ourselves for the decisive coming of Jesus when we die, and at the end of time, by reminding us that we are mortal. Jesus will return to the Earth. He will vindicate the right.

The forces of evil will wither and die. They will fall before the glory of the risen Lord. He will reign forever. Everything else will pass away.

We must be with the Lord or place ourselves opposite the Lord. If we reject God, we shall die.

How do we prepare for all this? We prepare by keeping first and foremost our purpose to love God above all else, and by loving all others, in the example of the Lord. †

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