First Sunday of Advent - 2nd December, 2018

Liturgical Reflection

Jer.33:14-16;  Ps 24;  1 Thess. 3:12 – 4:2;  Luke 21:25-28,34-36

Verna Holyhead described Advent as “the greening of our earth with hope, that springs from the tired dryness of the old church year.”   And as the old church year has ground to its weary end, we have, I might say, endured a spate pf apocalyptic-type readings leading up to Advent and yet another one in today’s gospel reading which lists more of the horrors we are threatened with.

Christians in the early Church, were preoccupied with expectation of the second coming of Christ.  By degrees it became clear that this coming would be later rather than sooner, and as we read the lists of horrors like those in today’s Gospel, we have to admit that they have been, and are, already upon us, in an ongoing way.  We may not have been touched personally by these disasters, but we are not without obligation to support those who have, at least by our prayers.   A sharpening of our awareness and our preparedness might be our personal greening.  “Watch yourself,” Jesus says in Luke, “or your hearts will be coarsened.”

But if there are warnings, there are also promises and reassurances in all readings: Jeremiah promises virtue and integrity; the psalmist promises faithfulness and love to those who keep God’s covenant; Paul prays confidently that we will be blameless in the sight of God, and Jesus urges in Luke, “When these (sufferings) begin to take place, stand erect… because your liberation is near at hand.”

Last week, our hearts were touched by the story of the farmer in Western Australia who gave his life trying to help others escape the terrible bush fires.  He was ready, and from his parched body, hopefully, others will draw hope and greening.  For Advent is about hope, not repentance – more a time of spring-cleaning - to quote Verna again, “for filling in the holes and removing the stumbling blocks that trip us up on our journey of discipleship.”

We need not look for something new or novel in our Advent devotion, but be alive to what is already present in the challenges facing us.  In the gospel, we are urged to pray.  Lest it seem that our role of waiting is too passive, think again.  Is praying passive?   I don’t think Jesus thought so when he urged us “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12).





Advent. Let us love the single flickering candle
we light today and keep it burning in our hearts,
to shine on the path of our journey.


Sr Helen Ryan OP