Saturday, November 28, 2015

Gospel text for the First Sunday of Advent, 29 November 2015

Luke 21:25-36        Jesus said, "There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in a cloud' with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
Then he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
"Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."

Reflection   Having celebrated Thanksgiving we now change our decorations to get ready for Christmas. But something is amiss when we look around our churches. Instead of the green, red and sparkle of Christmas the color we see is blue. Why blue?

This Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent, the start of a new liturgical year. In just four weeks Christmas, The Nativity of Our Lord, will be here. The thing is, Christmas is so important that we need four weeks to prepare to receive its mystery.  We prepare by remembering how our ancient Jewish ancestors longed for the Messiah and by finding that same longing deep in our hearts. That is why the primary color for Advent is blue because blue represents seriousness and repentance, turning toward God. We look forward to the Christ child being born again in our hearts even as we prepare to celebrate his first coming at Christmas in Bethlehem. 

This is the paradox of our Christian story; it has happened already and not yet, which explains why one of the four candles in our Advent wreath is pink instead of blue. The joyful color of pink  in the midst of all the blues reminds us that even as we wait and long for the coming of the Christ, we know that he already came in the person of Jesus. Christ is already, and not yet. 

Fortunately we have the four weeks of Advent to ponder this inscrutable mystery of the birth of the Christ child, already and not yet.  Here are a few questions that may help. What does it mean to us to remember the utterly human baby Jesus born to an unwed mother two thousand years ago? What does it mean for us to long for the rebirth of the Light of Christ in our hearts? What thoughts, habits, addictions, preferences or fears stand in the way of wholly receiving the Christ, nurturing the Light and letting it spread through us to the world?  Are we ready to pray for the grace to have these stumbling blocks removed from us? Are we ready to give birth to Christ’s light in the world? We have four weeks to wonder and choose our response. 

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