27 November 2016: First Sunday of Advent

Reading 1 Response Reading 2 Gospel
Is 2:1-5 Ps 122: 1-2, 3-4, 4-5, 6-7,8-9 Rom 13:11-14 Mt 24:37-44


Advent: preparing for what’s coming

Purple_banner_sm Happy new year! This Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, marks the start of a new liturgical year and a new season. In this new liturgical year, the Sunday gospel readings change from Luke’s gospel to Matthew’s gospel. In this new liturgical season, the season color changes from Ordinary time’s green to Advent’s purple. As we begin Advent, the Lectionary asks RCIA participants and the believing community to prepare for Jesus’ coming.

In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah describes his vision of God’s realized kingdom. All nations worship God; God instructs and justly judges everyone. Isaiah tells us that we will “beat our swords into plowshares” only when God leads all nations. Without God, universal peace remains a human vision. The coming messiah offers a chance for us to achieve Isaiah’s vision. The reading closes with a prayer of hope and preparation: “Come, let us walk in the Lord’s light.”

In the second reading, Paul writes to the Roman ekklesia, urging them to “wake” and prepare for Jesus’ return. Quoting a baptismal hymn, Paul tells the Romans to “throw off the works of darkness” and to prepare for the Lord’s return by “putting on Christ” and dressing in “the armor of light.”

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus tells his disciples to prepare for the son of man’s return. Jesus gives three warnings about preparedness:

  • The days of Noah: In Noah’s time, only a few people were aware of the coming destruction; they didn’t know until the flood came and carried them away. Jesus warns his disciples: it will be the same when the son of man returns–many will be caught unaware.
  • The everyday now: Jesus gives real scenes from daily life to emphasize the suddenness of the son of man’s return. People will be living workaday lives and in an instant everything will change.
  • The unready homeowner: Jesus tells a final story about an unpredictable event: a robbery. The homeowner’s only defense against the thief is watchfulness.

Jesus concludes with two warnings to his disciples: Stay awake (v 42) and be ready (v 44)! In the final weeks of Ordinary time, Jesus warned his disciples to watch for the signs of the end-times. In Advent, Jesus tells his disciples rather than trying to predict the future, they should prepare for it.

The Advent readings ask RCIA participants and the whole believing community: are we ready for what’s coming? Isaiah prays for God to intervene and bring a peaceable kingdom. Paul tells us to awake to our coming salvation. Jesus warns us to be ready because the son of man can return at any moment. Advent is our preparation for Isaiah’s prayer fulfilled: God breaks into human history through Jesus’ Incarnation. Are we stringing holiday lights or are we putting on our armor of light? Are we settling in for a long winter’s nap or are we awake to Jesus coming? Are we ready for what comes next?

—Terence Sherlock


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