1st Sunday of Advent, Year A
Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
December 1, 2019
Soon it will be Christmas but not yet. If you look at the stores, Christmas items have been out for a while. That doesn’t make it Christmas.
Before we can celebrate Christmas, we first celebrate Advent. The season of Advent always has four Sundays. Today is the first.
When we do celebrate Christmas, it is the First Coming of Jesus that we will celebrate. The word “Advent” means “coming”. Advent is a season that we celebrate to prepare us for the coming of Jesus. As we get closer to Christmas our readings will from the time just before Jesus’ birth (his First Coming) but we begin Advent with a gospel reading that points us to the Second Coming of Jesus. We are to ask ourselves if we are ready.
Referring to when it will be, Jesus says, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man…They did not know” when the Flood was coming. They didn’t even know there would be a flood (one would think seeing Noah building the ark would have raised questions).
As to who will be saved, Jesus says of people that are together at that time, “one will be taken, and one will be left.” Some people today think everyone gets into Heaven. That’s not what Jesus says so we “must be prepared.”
We need to “throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light…put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Or, as Isaiah puts it, “Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain.”
It is time to turn to the Lord’s way, to put God first. We can’t keep putting it off.
What keeps us from putting God first? Are our lives too busy? Maybe we aren’t as involved in our faith as we should be? Sometimes that is because we don’t always understand why we do what we do as Catholics.
That’s where we need to pay attention to what we hear from Isaiah today, “he may instruct us in his ways, and we walk in his paths.” When we hear the word “instruct”, we might think of the religious instruction we give to our children.
Religious instruction for children is necessary and important but, regardless of our age, we all need to learn more about our faith. This stands at the heart of why I offer the presentations that I do.
It has been the practice the last couple of years for our parish to adopt a “mission” or “theme” for the year. We start a new year today with “family” at the core.
What does it mean to be a “family” and how do we live as good Christian families?
Families are important in the Bible. For example, today’s psalm refers to the “tribes”. This is a reference to the twelve tribes of Israel that started with Jacob’s twelve sons.
When we refer to family, at the core traditionally are a mother and father living together as husband and wife with children, all in the same household. This isn’t always the case. My own parents divorced when I was eight to ten years old. That is the reality but it doesn’t change the ideal.
Family isn’t limited to just parents and children. It includes grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, and more. Again, at the core is parents and children.
Some families are close while others drift apart for no particular reason. Unfortunately, some families fight. For those who have fought, I point to Advent as a time for reconciliation. We talk about reconciling with God through the Sacrament where we confess our sins. Can this be a time to reconcile with estranged family members? It can be a time to follow the words from Isaiah today, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.”
Going back to “family” as a theme/mission for our parish for the coming year, we are making plans to develop activities for families and ways to help you live out your faith.
This will include some gatherings related to our regular Sunday morning classes for children that parents will be part of. You will find a calendar for the month of December with a suggested activity to do each day.
For those who do not have children in the house, you can still use the calendar as way to have God in your life. When it speaks of family, pray for your family wherever they might be. Maybe you pray for the family with children sitting in church that you don’t really know. Pray for families that don’t come to church.
You will hear more about Christian family life in the weeks to come. For now, think about what family means to you. Think about how you can make faith a bigger part of your family life. Perhaps think of how we can better support families in living out our faith.
As we move towards Christmas, remember to keep Christ in your heart.