First Advent – a final admonition

This coming Sunday is the start of a new liturgical year (Year C) and the first Sunday in Advent. In the posts this week we have looked  at the gospel in context and in detail. The reading ends with a final admonishment

34 “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise 35 like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. 36 Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”

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First Sunday in Advent

This coming Sunday is the start of a new liturgical year (Year C) and the first Sunday in Advent. The gospel is apocalyptic and seems, at first glance, an odd way to begin to run-up to Christmas. But then Advent was never meant to be a “run-up” to Christmas. The previous Sunday celebrates the Solemnity of Christ the King which portends the “age to come.” Advent is no less striking in its meaning – celebrating the two turning of the ages: the revelation of the reign of God and the birth of the Messiah. It is apocalyptic, but it also is a call to vigilance.

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Advent Watching

Next Sunday is the 1st Sunday of Advent in Year B. You can read a full commentary on the gospel reading here.

32 “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. 35 Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. 36 May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”

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The Gift of Forgiveness

The First Sunday of Advent readings might strike you as somewhat odd. The don’t seem very…well, in the Christmas spirit. Perhaps it helps to consider where Advent falls on the liturgical calendar for the Church. It is immediately preceded by the Solemnity of Christ the King and followed by the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas). Advent lies between the celebration of the Seconding Coming of Christ at the end of time and the commemoration of the First Coming of Christ at Christmas. The theme of readings and teachings during Advent is often to prepare for the Second Coming at the end of time, while also commemorating the First Coming of Christ at Christmas. With the view of directing the thoughts of Christians to the first coming of Jesus Christ as Savior, and to his second coming as Judge, special readings are prescribed for each of the four Sundays in Advent. Continue reading

Already Present and Coming

This coming Sunday marks our journey into a new liturgical year and a new Season, the first Sunday in Advent in Year A. You can read a complete commentary on the Sunday Gospel here.

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. (Matthew 24:37-44)

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. Continue reading

Thinnest of places

Did you know that a “new year” begins with Advent? We begin a new liturgical year, a year when most of the gospels will be from the Gospel of Luke (referred to as “Year C”). While the years and readings change, there are constants with the arrival of Advent.

Advent is a time when we commemorate the adventus of Jesus — his coming, arrival, or birth into the days and nights of our world. Christians live in normal time just like everyone else — our normal chronos as time ticks off the days, weeks, months, and years. The early Christian thinkers held that God lives in kairos, a “time” when past, present, and future are but a single moment. The awesome moments of salvation history are when chronos and kairos meet. Continue reading

Watchfulness – reflection

First-AdventFrom Pheme Perkins [The Gospel of Mark in The New Interpreter’s Bible, 695]

“On the one hand, Mark underscores the certainty of Jesus’ word. Readers know that the death of Jesus on the cross does not end the story of salvation. On the other hand, Christians need not concern themselves with apocalyptic speculation. Disciples should remember that ‘doing the will of God’ (3:35) has no relationship to the timing of divine judgment. Neither should Christians concern themselves with the fate of those who persecute them or who reject the gospel. When Christians rush to judge others, they should remember this exhortation. The only question the master will ask is whether the servants have been faithful to their call as disciples. Continue reading

Watchfulness – commentary

First-AdventJesus concluded his discourse by stressing the responsibility of maintaining vigilance. The duty to watch draws its force from the fact that “no one knows” the critical moment of God’s decisive intervention. “That day” evokes a formula hallowed by use in the prophetic Scriptures; it appears with a clearly eschatological resonance in passages which announce the day of Yahweh’s appearing (Amos 8:3, 9, 13; 9:11; Mic. 4:6; 5:9; 7:11; Zeph. 1:9f.; 3:11, 16; Obad. 8; Joel 3:18; Zech. 9:16; 12–14). Continue reading

Watchfulness: context

First-Advent13:32 “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. 35 Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. 36 May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’” Continue reading

So it will be: context

advent_1st37 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. Continue reading