A Gift of Advent: Mercy

Last Saturday I wrote about forgiveness. I started out the post as a reflection on the readings from Scripture for the first week of Advent, noting how the readings did not seem to fit the mood of Christmas coming. The column explained that they weren’t meant to be – it’s Advent, a time of waiting and reflecting despite what the commercial world of commerce would have you believe. But maybe the draw of Christmas is too powerful. The column sort of morphed itself into the idea of forgiveness as the gift you give. The end of the post said: “What ‘Christmas gift’ comes along with this life of forgiveness? Lower blood pressure, restful night, sweet dreams, peace, no longer being a victim, uninterrupted prayer, a new experience of God’s love… and so much more. Your gift is waiting right there under the tree, the cross of Christ. Go ahead, open your gift. `Tis always the season.’” Continue reading

Active Waiting

This morning’s homily was posted earlier today…. but it was different than the one I actually gave at the morning Masses. That sometimes happens. A shorten version of what I gave can found here. But I also offer you the insight of Rev. Jim Harnish, the now retired pastor of Hyde Park United Methodist in Tampa. I offer the text of his thoughts below. You can find his blog here. His post today is titled: A Time for Active Waiting Continue reading

The Season of Advent and Sacred Scriptures

At the start of Advent 2022 the Church begins a new liturgical year. This entails a shift from the Gospel of Luke being the primary source of our Sunday gospels (in Cycle C) to our primary source being the Gospel of Matthew (Cycle A; the Gospel of Mark for Cycle B). You can find the upcoming Sunday readings of Advent, as follows:

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A Gift of Advent: Forgiveness

The First Sunday of Advent readings might strike you as somewhat odd. They 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

The Parade of Nations

In our modern times there is perhaps no “parade of nations” more famous than the ceremony that begins the modern Olympic Games. All the nations of the world, national flags at the fore, people dressed for the occasion, with a destination in mind. A reminder of what the Prophet Isaiah foretold in this morning’s first reading.

In days to come, The mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it; many peoples shall come and say: “Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, That he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.” For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

In the gospel we again receive a foretaste of Isaiah’s prophecy fulfilled as the Centurion comes to Jesus. He came because he had heard of Jesus because “from Zion” went forth instructions.

As the psalm refrain says, “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord” but when we arrive, we can be spectators only, or we can chose to “go forth from Zion” and speak of our Hope in Jesus to a modern Centurion that he or she may join the parade of nations.

Photo by Franck Robichon

Waiting in all its forms

Advent is a season of waiting in Hope. As a Christian people we wait on the Nativity of the Christ child. But in our personal lives, sometimes the goal of our waiting is not exactly clear in our minds; yet we wait. I often wait for an idea or at least the seed of an idea of what I might write for this post. There are times I am just waiting for just a quiet spot within the day.

This Advent has been quiet. We are in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. Infections, hospitalizations and deaths are increasing – and so parishioners are “safer at home.”  All this and I am here in this parish less than 3 months. As a result of all these things and more, the normal ebb and flow of my previous Advents as a priest is quite different this year. There were a million things to do or ensure got done. My previous parish also was responsible as chaplains for a major regional trauma center hospital. Our daily confession lines stretched out to the horizon (or so it seemed some days). There were lots of December weddings and the quiet of Advent seemed to be punctuated by the next phone call, the next meeting, the next …. whatever it was. Run, Father, run….

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How long is Advent?

Many people think that there are four weeks of Advent. Well, only in some years does the Season of Advent last four full weeks. In most years, Advent is a little shorter, depending on which weekday December 25 (Christmas!) happens to be that year. The more precise answer to the question posed above is that there are always four Sundays of Advent, but that the liturgical Season of Advent can be between three and four weeks long. The following table gives the precise dates for the current year, and several past and upcoming years.

The table and information was compiled by Fr. Felix Just, SJ who has an amazing website that you should explore!

Waiting and Hope

As we enter the Season of Advent, it strikes me that “Hope” and “waiting” are even more a part of our lives in these times. In the dark hours before dawn, I muse about waiting and hope in the season of Advent, I was pondering what is higher on my list – waiting for Christmas or waiting for a coronavirus vaccine, herd immunity and the return to normalcy. If I am honest, it is the latter. It feels like we are living in the time of Noah. We are not just waiting for the flood waters of illness to reside, but we are optimistically waiting now that the vaccines are on the horizon.

But while I am optimistic, am I hopeful? I know I am waiting, but am I hopeful? Are you?

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