December 3, 2017

1st Sun., Advent

December 3, 2017:  First Sunday of Advent

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Pope Francis Angelus
Advent is given to us to welcome the Lord, who comes to meet us and verify our desire for him, and to prepare for his return.  Jesus exhorts us to pay attention, watch, and be ready to welcome him.  Those who pay attention don't let the world's noise or superficiality overwhelm or distract them but live with concern for others.  With this attitude, we become aware of others' tears and needs, try to counter indifference and cruelty, and rejoice in the world's beauty.  The vigilant person welcomes the invitation to watch, not overwhelmed by the weariness of discouragement, lack of hope, or disappointment.  Being alert and vigilant helps us stop wandering from the Lord's ways, lost in sin and infidelity; it allows God to break into our existence and restore meaning, value, goodness, and tenderness to it.
Read
  • Is 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7  You're our father, our redeemer.  Why do you let us wander and harden our hearts?  Rend the heavens, return, and work awesome deeds.  Would that you meet us doing right!  None call on you, for you've hidden, yet you're our father, the potter, and we the clay, work of your hands.
  • 1 Cor 1:3-9 I thank God for the grace bestowed on you, enriching you in every way.  He'll keep you firm and irreproachable.  God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son.
  • Mk 13:33-37  “Be alert!  You don't know when the time will come; it's like a traveler who leaves home and orders the gatekeeper to keep watch.  May the Lord not come suddenly and find you sleeping.  Watch!”
Reflect
  • "Be alert; the world needs more lerts."  —Woody Allen :-)
  • Creighton:  Happy new [liturgical] year!  Our church year transcends calendar and fiscal years; the Christian community lives time in a different time frame, centered on Jesus' birth.  We begin our year by focusing on our need for God:
The 1st reading, a lament, was written after the Judeans returned from exile but before they rebuilt the temple.  Liberated from one empire but now laboring under the Persians, they feel the need to know God's power more than ever.  Addressing God as Father, they cry, “Tear open the sky!  Come help us.  We're like clay trying to shape itself.  No; you're the potter.  Come shape us.”  When Mark starts narrating Jesus' public life, he writes, “the heavens were being torn open,” alluding to the lament and implying that Jesus' coming, and the outpouring of the Spirit, some 500 years after Isaiah, is the prayer's answer.  We're baptized in the same Spirit but also know we're unfinished work.  The clay threatens to harden prematurely, and we need help to become more responsive to the potter’s work, the Father’s shaping.  Today's gospel ends with the parable about the time frame of our lives.  We're like servants left behind to carry out tasks while the Master is apparently absent.  We're not expected simply to do a job, but to do it awake, knowing our power comes from the Master.  Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
  • One Bread, One Body:  "Exchanging wills":  Because the Israelites turned their backs to God, the prophet begged God to return to them.  The prophet is waiting for the Lord's coming with a heart longing to make changes so that God's will would be done.  Despite our rebellious nature and stubborn, selfish will, we're not doomed to rebellion against God.  As the world exchanges Christmas gifts, God offers us the greatest possible gift exchange:  our selfish will for his perfect will.
Advent prayer:  Lord, conform my will to yours.  "Not my will but Yours be done" "On earth as it is in heaven."  "Be it done to me according to Your will."  "To do Your will, O my God, is my delight."
  • Passionist:  Stay awake and be ready!  We think Jesus' final coming is a long way off, but you never know.  If he comes, or we die, will we be ready?  To be prepared:
    • Pray at the beginning, middle, and end of the day.  Listen; don't just talk.
    • Read Scripture daily; be open, and invite the Spirit to teach and inspire you.
    • Receive the Sacraments.  Our spirits need to be nourished.
    • Hold things lightly, but cling to things that will last; this world is passing away.  Cling to Jesus!
  • DailyScripture.net:  "Watch expectantly; your Master is coming!"  Landowners often left their estates in their servants' hands, expecting loyalty and hard work.  Watchful servants looked forward to the master's return and their reward.  The Lord Jesus expects us to watch eagerly for his return in glory.  The prophets foretold his coming as judge.  Advent reminds us we're living in the end times, between Christ's first coming (when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us) and his "second" on Judgment Day.  We don't know when his second coming will be, but it'll come swiftly and unexpectedly; Jesus warns us not to be caught off guard.  The Lord invites us to pray for the coming of his kingdom into our present lives too.  Do you pray for the coming of his kingdom both now and at the end of the world?  God will reward those who wait for his visitation.  Our Lord expects us to make good use of the gifts he's entrusted us with for his glory and others' benefit. He wants us to love, honor, and serve him, our families, neighbors, and communities.  The watching the Lord has in mind is not passive ("wait and see") but vigilant and active, praying that his kingdom come and his will be done; we're to watch for and with Christ, to fix our hearts and minds on him, to be ready for his action in our lives and our world.  Those who so "wait" won't be disappointed.  Do you watch for the Lord's action with faith and hope?  This Advent may we rouse our minds and hearts for the Lord's coming and his will, seek him, watch for his word, power, saving work, and visitation.
Dress legend
  • 'Alps' pin:  Come down, with the mountains quaking before you (1st reading)
  • 'Heart' pin:  Why do You let us harden our hearts? (1st reading)
  • 'Eyeball' tie pin:  No eye has seen any other god doing such deeds (1st reading); look down from heaven and see (psalm)
  • 'Hands' pin:  We're the work of your hands (1st reading); protect what your right hand has planted... (psalm)
  • Tie with grapes:  Take care of this vine (psalm)
  • 'Phone' tie bar:  None calls on your name (1st reading); we'll call on your name (psalm); by God you were called to fellowship with Christ (2nd reading)
  • 'Clocks' suspenders:  You don't know when the Lord will come:... (gospel)
  • 'Rooster' pin:  ...at night, at cockcrow, or in the morning (gospel)
  • Watch:  "Watch!" (gospel)
  • Purple shirt:  Advent season