This coming Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent and the first Sunday of the new liturgical year, Cycle A, in which the Gospel of Matthew is the anchor text for the next 12 months. The readings are not very “Chrismassy” nor are they intended to be. Advent is a different season. Advent has a two-fold character: as a season to prepare our hearts for Christmas when Christ’s first coming is remembered with joy and as a season when that remembrance directs the mind and heart to await Christ’s second coming at the end of time. Advent is thus a period of devout and joyful expectation with an element of repentance as part of the preparation.
The readings for the First Sunday of Advent serve as a transition from the celebrations of Christ the King Sunday into the new year. The readings are replete with a strong theme of “staying awake” and being “prepared” for the days to come when the promises to Israel will be fulfilled.
This text is part of the fifth discourse in Matthew (24:1-25:46), which centers on the coming of the Son of Man – and that does not necessarily imply “end times” as in end-of-the-world. The theme for the 1st Sunday in Advent (for all three years) is preparedness – in the everyday of life as well as for the end of life. What is common to all times is the victory of the reign of God.
37 For as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 In (those) days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. 39 They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be (also) at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. 42 Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. 43 Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. 44 So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.
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