Second Sunday of Advent, Year A, 8th December 2019

Prepare for the coming of Jesus through repentance.

As we take another step into Advent, the First Reading introduces one of the main themes of this period of the year: Peace.  Isaiah paints a picture of the whole world, of people and animals living together in harmony, led by a King who has all the qualities to rule justly.

The Psalm, too, speaks of this hope for peace and justice for all.

St Paul, when he writes to the Romans, also mentions the hope which can be found in Scripture. All the more reason, then, for us to be tolerant of one another, so we can all give glory to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Second Reading)

 In this week’s Gospel, John the Baptist appears by the River Jordan to entreat people to repent and prepare a way for the one who is to come. He tells them that being a son or daughter of Abraham will not be enough to be sure of being saved. There is no room for complacency. They are to repent; to change their way of life.

Mindful of this week’s readings and the Opening Prayer of the Mass, I can perhaps look around me and, whether by word or deed,  encourage others to join me as I set out in haste to meet Jesus this Christmas.

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2020 is the tenth anniversary of Verbum Domini – Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Exhortation on ‘The Word of the Lord’ and the 1,600th anniversary of St Jerome’s death. These dates have inspired the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales to dedicate 2020 as a year of focus on the Bible and ‘The God Who Speaks’, starting on the First Sunday in Advent, 2019. We will be marking this initiative each week with an additional sheet, offering a short quotation from Scripture, together with a prayer.

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Third Sunday of Advent, Year B, 17th December 2017

Rejoice in the Lord always!

This Sunday’s readings are full of joy and hope – we have a glimpse of the joy of our approaching redemption.

Isaiah, in the First Reading, announces the redemption of Jerusalem, clothed in the bridal robes of justice and integrity. Jesus quoted this text to describe his mission, and it also prefigured Mary’s role in our salvation.

The Responsorial Psalm is the song of Mary’s Magnificat. It is a joyful hymn of praise to God for his holiness, his mercy and his faithfulness in bringing the salvation promised to his people.

St Paul’s sentiments in the Second Reading echo this. In his letter he encourages the Thessalonians – and us – to be happy, to pray constantly, to give thanks to God and to be open to the Spirit as we wait for the coming of the Lord. God has called us and he will not fail us.

This Sunday, we again meet John the Baptist in the Gospel. John the Evangelist insists on the Baptist’s role as witness to the light. He is a witness, a voice, but not the Messiah. The Messiah is here, amongst us, but we do not know him.

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4th Sunday of Advent, Year A, 18th December 2016

Emmanuel, God-is-with-us

This Sunday brings us nearer to the mystery of the Incarnation.  As Advent draws to a close I renew my commitment to prepare a welcome for the Christ child in my heart.  I try to make space, in this busy week, to spend some quiet time with the readings.

The First Reading brings us Isaiah’s prophecy to King Ahaz—a maiden is with child, his name is God-is-with-us.

Psalm 23 sings of the glory and power of God.  We prepare ourselves to meet him and we shall seek his face in that of a little child.

St Paul in the Second Reading emphasises the fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, clothing his divinity, his holiness and power in human form.

The Gospel tells the story of Joseph, his predicament over Mary’s pregnancy and the dream that he accepts as coming from God.  He takes Mary to his home and the child will be called Emmanuel,  God-is-with-us.

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Third Sunday of Advent, Year A, 11th December 2016

Rejoice! The Lord is near.

The Third Sunday of Advent is also known as Gaudate ( Rejoice!) Sunday.  The readings and Liturgy are full of rich images of God’s kingdom.

The First Reading from Isaiah tells of the Lord’s coming.  The Lord will bring healing and strength to the broken, and everlasting joy will be on the faces of his people.

The Psalm describes the justice and wonderful deeds that the Lord will bring when he comes.

The Second Reading encourages us to keep faithful and patient because the Lord is coming soon.

In the Gospel, John’s disciples ask Jesus if he is the “one who is to come“.  Jesus replies by quoting the words of Isaiah; he encourages them in their doubt by telling them of his wonderful healing works and how the Good News is being proclaimed to the poor.

As we draw nearer to the wonderful celebration of the Nativity, may our prayer this week help us to welcome Jesus into our lives joyfully.

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1st Sunday in Advent, Year A, 27th November 2016

Let us pray in Advent time with longing and waiting for the coming of the Lord

At this time of year, we move into winter, a time of quiet, of waiting in growing darkness for the return of the light.  With the beginning of Advent, the Church also moves into an attitude of watchful waiting.  The readings of the Advent liturgy invite in us two attitudes: hope for that which is not yet fulfilled and  wakefulness of mind and heart.  Together they prepare us to enter into the mystery of the divine gift; God with us.

At the heart of our faith is the conviction that in Bethlehem in Judea, God gave us in Jesus the definitive answer to all our longings; the fulfilment of the deepest desires of our hearts.  The liturgy slowly teaches us to listen to this longing and, as we remain wakeful, we can begin to sense another longing that is deeper than our own: the longing that is in God for us.

The First Reading shows us how different our lives can be if we allow God to teach us to “walk in the light of the Lord”.  The Second Reading reminds us to “stay awake” so as to notice what God is doing, while the Gospel tells us that Jesus’ coming will surprise us.  The Psalm celebrates our joy that, in order that we may welcome God, we are first of all welcomed by God.

We pray for the graces of Advent – to grow in the virtue of hope that God is ever present, even when God seems to be hidden from us, and to stay awake to all that God is doing in our lives.

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