First Sunday In Advent – Year C
November 28, 2021 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community, Palm Springs CA
Jeremiah 33:14-16 | Psalm 25:4-5;8-10;14
I Thessalonians 3:12-4:2 | Luke 25:21-28;34-35
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, AMEN.
Today, we begin Advent, the four-week period leading up to Christmas. The term Advent is derived from two Latin words: “Ad-ventus” and “Ad-venire” which translates to “to arrive” or “to come” and represents the start of the Church’s liturgical calendar.
Advent is probably my favorite time of year as we await the arrival of Jesus with joyous celebrations and lots of goodwill towards everyone!
In our second reading today from Thessalonians, Paul tells us all to prepare for Jesus by showing our love for one another when he says, “May He so confirm your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless in the sight of God…when our Lord Jesus comes with all His saints.
In today’s first reading, Jeremiah is looking towards the future, to the anticipated arrival of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Jeremiah foretells the promises of God being fulfilled: the city of Jerusalem will be called: “The Lord is our justice,” since the ancient prophets referred to Jerusalem as the Church or the New Jerusalem. Jeremiah foretold the answer to the chaotic times would be the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, and all would be secure and safe in His hands.
Here’s a Christmas story to get us started on our fulfillment of Paul’s advice to prepare for Jesus. It’s written by Jennifer Yardley Barney.
I knew I was not supposed to be quite so excited! I was too old for that, at age eleven, the oldest, and my mom’s “grown-up” girl. I had to keep my cool. I was in middle school after all. But every chance I got, when I was alone, I checked out each present under the tree. I read every tag and felt every package, guessing at the contents within. I had examined each gift so often that I could tell which present went to which person without even looking at the tags.
It had been a tough year for my family. Whenever my mom looked over at the tree and scattered presents, she would warn us, “There won’t be as much for Christmas this year. Try not to be disappointed.” Christmas had traditionally been a time for my parents to spoil us. In years past, the presents would pile up and spill out from under the tree, taking over the living room. I had heard the phrase, “giving is better than receiving” but thought that whoever had said that must have been out of their mind. Getting presents was the whole point! It was the reason I couldn’t get to sleep on Christmas Eve.
On Christmas morning, we eagerly waited in the hallway until Dad told us everything was ready. We rushed into the living room and let the wrapping paper fly. We made weak attempts to wait and watch while other family members opened their presents but as time passed, we lost our self-control.
“Here’s another one for you.” said mom as she handed me a package. I looked at it, confused. Having spent so much time examining the presents before Christmas, I recognized this one. But it had not been mine. It was my mom’s. A new label had been put on it with my name written in my mother’s handwriting.
“Mom, I can’t…” I was stopped by my mother’s eager, joyful look… a look I could not really understand. “Let’s see what it is, honey, hurry and open it.”
It was a blow dryer. Though this may seem but a simple gift, to me it was so much more. Being an eleven-year-old girl, I was stunned. In my world, where receiving outweighed giving by light years, my mom’s act of selflessness was incomprehensible. It was a huge act. Tears filled my eyes, and I thought in disbelief about how much my mom must love me to give up her Christmas so I could have a few more presents.
I have always remembered that Christmas fondly. It had such an impact on me. As an adult with children of my own whom I adore, I can now understand my mom’s actions. I see how she was not “giving up her Christmas” as I had thought as an eleven-year-old, but was finding even greater joy in her Christmas because giving is truly better than receiving.
In today’s Gospel from Luke as we transition from the year of Mark or Liturgical Year B to the year of Luke, or Liturgical Year C, Jesus himself talks about His Second Coming, or Parousia. 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.
All three of the Synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke contain an apocalyptic discourse of Jesus that describes the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and the signs of the final tribulation before the Last Judgment. This “synoptic apocalypse” is obscure in regard to its time or duration and suggests events that may take place in the future. Many early Christians expected the imminent return or “parousia” of Jesus. But the timing of the parousia is known only to God, so we must be vigilant as Jesus tells us today.
Jesus tells us to stay awake and pray as we prepare to meet Him. Luke includes Jesus’ warning, “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 like a trap” and also, “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.”
The only gift that Jesus wants from us is to live our lives doing His will or by doing the things that are pleasing to Him, that is:
–having faith in God
–being spiritually minded
–relying on God’s mercy in our lives
–following Jesus’ example
–obeying Jesus so we can become more like Him
Let us pray
Your son, Jesus, is your greatest gift to us.
He is a sign of your love.
Help us walk in that love during the weeks of Advent,
As we wait and prepare for His coming.
We pray in the name of Jesus, our Savior.