Sunday, December 4, 2016

Advent: A Preparation for Christmas

Borrowed this from Catholic Exchange;

As each year draws to a close, and Christmas fast approaches, we tend to focus on what is obvious – putting up our decorations, trimming our tree, shopping for friends and family and eating every type of desert known to man.
And before you know it, time has escaped us.
Suddenly it’s Christmas Eve night and all the wonders that come with it – reflecting on Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus, the angels singing, the shepherds in the field, the wise men beginning their decent from the east, all culminating in “Silent Night, Holy Night.”
But wait! Are we even prepared for Christmas? Prepared for all of the beauty and wonder of Christmas?
Truly prepared?
Before the coming of our Lord, is the season of Advent. A time of preparation.
The world tells us that Christmas is about filling our homes with bright lights and greenery, attending office parties, singing carols, listening to Handel’s “Messiah” or the latest pop star’s new Christmas album. The world encourages us to shop, shop and shop!
I love Christmas just as much as anyone (maybe more). But should we not also be more intentional (and joyful) when practicing and experiencing the season of Advent? The coming of our Lord!

How to Prepare for Christmas, through Advent

And what should we be doing to prepare for the coming of our Lord? The obvious things are:
  • Meditate on our Lord’s impending birth
  • Give to those in need
  • Feed the hungry
  • Clothe the homeless
  • Be kind to others
  • Be satisfied with what we have (gratitude)
But perhaps it is not possible for you to go out and help the “homeless.” That’s fine – OK, then how about helping those in your own home?
What ways can we prepare our hearts for the coming of Baby Jesus – in our own homes? How about patience – toward those nearest you? Be more willing to listen, less eager to criticize? Give of your time and your person and not necessarily of your money.
We can also practice more patience with those outside of our homes – especially in stores or driving on the road (Christmas shopping traffic!). We can be more giving and patient toward those in the workplace. Maybe we can be less prideful and more humble.
How about being more temperate with our sweet tooth (or teeth, for that matter)?
Advent challenges us to understand the Christmas season in the contexts of the coming of Christ. Advent also offers us a powerful alternative to the commercialization of Christmas. A reason to exclaim “Merry Christmas!” instead of a bland and politically correct “Happy Holidays.”

A Season for Giving

I’m sure you’ve heard it before; Christmas is a season for giving.
Then make it so. Give to those in need.
I’m sure you’ve heard that Christmas is a time for feasting.
Then make it so. Help to feed those around you who can’t afford to do so.
I’m sure you’ve heard that Christmas is a season of joy, hope and peace.
Then make it so. Grow in these virtues by putting them into practice with friends, family, neighbors and strangers. And most importantly, with the whole reason there is Christmas, for God.
And the next time someone asks you, “Are you ready for Christmas?” you can honestly say, “I’m not but I’m trying to be with the help of the season of Advent.”

Homily

Welcome my brothers and sisters in Christ to today's celebration of the Second Sunday of Advent. As we continue to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ during the Advent Season, we are told to "Prepare the way of the Lord, (to) make his paths straight." [Mt. 3:3]

Last Sunday, we learned that Advent serves the purpose of preparing us for the coming of the Lord as the Judge, either at death or at the end of this world, whichever may come first. It also taught us to prepare ourselves to receive the Real Physical Presence of our Redeemer through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. And it taught us to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christmas, the birthday anniversary of the Lord's coming into this world as God incarnate. Consequently, it can be said that while the reign of God is at hand, it is already here, but not yet fully.

Today's First Reading from the Book of Isaiah [Is. 11:1-10] consisted of a descriptive prophecy related to the coming of the ideal king from David's line. It began by proclaiming that "A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots." [Is. 11:1] Jesse was the father of king David, from whom the Judean kings descended.

The Gospel of Matthew affirms that Jesus was the King referred to, He being of the root of Jesse who was the father of David. [Mt. 1:5-6; Rev. 5:5, 22:16]

Regarding the King to come, Our Lord Jesus Christ, it was said that "The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge..." [Is. 11:2] The Spirit of the Lord is the Holy Spirit, the life-giving breath that comes from Yahweh. It is the same Spirit who endows men with the gifts of extraordinary power, wisdom, understanding, counsel, might and knowledge.

At His final coming, the Lord "shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked." [Is. 11;3- 4]

When the Divine judgments arrive, they shall be as severe as a chastising rod and a hot lethal breath. "And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of His mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of His coming." [2 Thess. 2:8]

At that time, "Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins." [Is. 11:5] The belt, also known as the "girdle," was a loincloth that was worn next to the body. In the prophecy of Isaiah, it was foretold that the King to come, Our Lord Jesus, would wear the symbolic garments of righteousness and faithfulness close to His body.

The aforementioned words remind us of the words of Saint Paul in the Letter to the Ephesians. "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His power. Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." [Eph. 6:10- 17]

And especially now in the Advent Season, we should "Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end (we should) keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints." [Eph. 6:18]

When Isaiah said, "The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them..." [Is. 11:6] he was providing a picture of a Messianic era when paradise would be restored. This era, partially fulfilled through Jesus Christ, is approaching its final day when the coming of Christ shall be upon us.

While we cannot see the spiritual Kingdom of God that has come on earth as it is in Heaven, we believe that through the Sacrament of Baptism, we have been admitted into the spiritual Kingdom of God on earth, the mystical Body of Christ to which the Catholic Church is united as the visible image of the invisible. We also believe that our participation in the celebration of the Holy Mass through which we receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is our participation in a great spiritual Feast in the Real Presence of Jesus, His mother, the saints and all the angels.

The First Reading ended by saying that "On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious." [Is. 11:10] What is that day? Was it in the past? Is it now? Or is it in the future? "On that day" is a reference to the past and to the present. It is a reference to the hope of the gentiles in Jesus. [Rom 15:12]

"Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope." [Rom. 15:4] The Words of God that were written in former days in the Holy Scriptures, they give us Christians a basis for our hope in Jesus Christ.

What was written in former days was in the hope that we too may live in harmony with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together we may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. [Rom. 15:5-6] We are to be united! We are to welcome one another, just as Jesus has welcomed us, for the glory of God. [Rom. 5:7] As all the activities of Jesus were for the glory of God, [Phil. 1:11, 2:11] and continue to be so to this day, we too are called to glorify God in all things, day and night, here and there, in all our thoughts, all our words and all our actions.

Today's Second Reading teaches us that "... Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy." [Rom. 15:8-9]

To fulfill the promises of God the Father to the patriarchs, Jesus had to be born as a Jewish citizen and He had to minister to the Jewish nation. But, while this is so, the promises of God are to be shared by both, the Jewish people [Ps. 18:50] and we the gentiles. [2 Sam. 22:50] Despite our ethnic background, as Saint Paul tells us, the Christian community is called to be united as one.

"As it is written, 'Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name.'" [Rom. 15:9] At the incarnation of God, the world sang praises to His Most Holy Name. Since the days of the glorious Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the world has been singing praises to His Most Holy Name. At His glorious coming, the world will sing praises to His Name. And finally, throughout the days of the eternal Kingdom that awaits those who persevere in their living faith, the children of God shall sing endless praises to His Most Holy Name.

Accordingly, we must "Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight." [Mt. 3:3] Today's Reading from the Gospel of Matthew [Mt. 3:1-12] began by telling us that Saint John the Baptist proclaimed a baptism of repentance in the wilderness of Judea. In the desert of Judea, there is a steep slope that falls from the central ridge of the country to the valley of the Jordan and the Dead Sea. According to Catholic tradition that has been handed down, when reference is made to baptism in the Jordan, it indicates that St. John the Baptism preached near the river, most likely not far from Jericho.

John's message was one of repentance in preparation for the Kingdom of Heaven that was at hand. It is the same message that Jesus proclaimed when He began His ministry in Galilee. "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near." [Mt. 4:17]

When the great prophet Isaiah prophesied a forerunner who would be crying out in the wilderness, he was clearly making reference to John the Baptist. [Mt. 4:3] The introduction of John the Baptist in the Gospel of Matthew is quite abrupt, lacking details as to who he was. The reason for this is because John was a well-known figure in the early days of the Christian community. There was no need for any lengthy introduction. This is affirmed in Chapter 19, verses 1 to 5 of the Acts of the Apostles. There, we read that when Paul passed through Ephesus, he came across John's followers who were promoting the baptism of repentance. They had never heard of Baptism in the Name of the Lord Jesus.

If St. John were here today, he would have no problem preparing himself during the Advent Season. To him, prayer and fasting was part of his life. In his days, there was no fast food hamburgers, high class restaurants, or 11 course meals. In humility, John wore a garment of camel's hair that was held together by a belt around his waist. His food consisted of locusts and wild honey. Surely, if he was here today, he would put us to shame by the way we live.

John the Baptist's lifestyle was similar to the prophet Elijah. In 2 Kings 1:7-8, we read, "'What kind of man was he who came to meet you and told you these things?' They answered him, 'A hairy man, with a leather belt around his waist.' He said, 'It is Elijah the Tishbite.'"

Before Jesus came into the world, it was prophesied that prior to the arrival of the Messiah, Elijah would return. [Mt. 11:14] As with many other prophesies, this was a symbolic prophecy. Yet, some of the people waited for Elijah to literally return. On this subject, we read in the Gospel of Matthew, "The disciples asked Jesus, 'Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?' Jesus replied, 'Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things: but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognise him, but they did to him whatever they pleased...'" [Mt. 17:10-2] The symbolic prophecy of Elijah referred to the coming of John the Baptist as the forerunner of the Messiah.

Towards the end of today's Gospel Reading, we heard the following word of John the Baptist, "I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." [Mt. 3:11] In these words, John alludes to the coming of the Holy Spirit in tongues of fire on Pentecost Day. [Acts 2:3]

At the same time, when speaking of a baptism of fire, it can be interpreted as meaning to receive the Holy Spirit in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. It can also be interpreted to mean the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit that sanctifies the souls so that they may become more in the likeness of Jesus Who is the First Fruit [1 Cor. 15:20] of many to follow.

As we "prepare the way of the Lord" in our lives, we are called to review the status of our disposition towards the grace of God the Father that is manifested through the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit. During Advent, we are called to be repentant of our sins. We are called to pray unceasingly, (pause) to make penance, (pause) to fast (pause) and to perform acts of charity towards our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Are we granting the Spirit of God the freedom to freely flow through us so we may shine as lights in the world? Or are we resisting the purifying of the Holy Spirit, choosing the pleasures of the world, its fame and it wealth? As we reflect upon this, let us not forget that "every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." [Mt. 3:10] May the power of the Spirit of Christ strengthen us all in our struggle to become living saints, not in name only, but also in action.

Second Sunday of Advent

Reading 1IS 11:1-10

On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:
a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
a spirit of counsel and of strength,
a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
nor by hearsay shall he decide,
but he shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
the calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,
together their young shall rest;
the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra’s den,
and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD,
as water covers the sea.
On that day, the root of Jesse,
set up as a signal for the nations,
the Gentiles shall seek out,
for his dwelling shall be glorious.

Responsorial PsalmPS 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17

R. (cf. 7) Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
he shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

Reading 2ROM 15:4-9

Brothers and sisters:
Whatever was written previously was written for our instruction, 
that by endurance and by the encouragement of the Scriptures 
we might have hope.
May the God of endurance and encouragement 
grant you to think in harmony with one another, 
in keeping with Christ Jesus, 
that with one accord you may with one voice 
glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, 
for the glory of God.
For I say that Christ became a minister of the circumcised
to show God’s truthfulness, 
to confirm the promises to the patriarchs, 
but so that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.
As it is written:
Therefore, I will praise you among the Gentiles
and sing praises to your name.

AlleluiaLK 3:4, 6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths:
all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 3:1-12

John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea
and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:
A voice of one crying out in the desert,
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
John wore clothing made of camel’s hair 
and had a leather belt around his waist.
His food was locusts and wild honey.
At that time Jerusalem, all Judea,
and the whole region around the Jordan
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.

When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees
coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers!
Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.
And do not presume to say to yourselves, 
‘We have Abraham as our father.’
For I tell you, 
God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees.
Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit 
will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, 
but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.
I am not worthy to carry his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand.
He will clear his threshing floor 
and gather his wheat into his barn, 
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Prayers for this Morning

Lord, let your light burn brightly in my heart that I may know the joy and freedom of your kingdom. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and empower me to witness the truth of your Gospel and to point others to Jesus Christ.

 Lord Jesus, you know all things and you govern the world with love. I believe in you. You don’t rule with a heavy hand, but instead you guide us gently towards you. I trust in your mercy and I know you are leading me home to heaven day by day. You can only desire what is good for me. Thank you. You give me the courage to say I love you, though I know my love is so weak. I wish to make more room for you in my life, putting you above all else.

Lord, you chose to become like me in order to bring me closer to you. Help me to continue to grow in a prayerful spirit, and unite me with you so that at the end of my life I can enjoy your presence, not just under the veil of the Eucharist, but in person. Lord, help me to embrace a way of life which is in consonance with my drawing nearer to you each day. So many worries, so many needless matters, Lord, distract me from seeking a closer friendship with you. Help me to put things in their proper perspective and value what matters to you alone. Lord, reveal yourself to me.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The week that was

Well the parish bouncing started again as I went back to my other parish. More because the Sunday Missal was there and available for purchase and for what ever reasons I like to have my own Sunday Missal for mass.
 There are things I really do like here at this parish and the homilies are always wonderful. The way mass is done does leave a bit to be desired but one can live with it.
 I am fortunate and last few years have spent a few weeks in Hungary and have been able to attend mass at 2 different churches and like here there was a large difference between the two churches and how mass is presented.
 Certainly the one amazing fact though no matter how mass is done is some of the old churches and cathedrals there are and I have taken time not just to go in and gawk but to also pray and thank God that I could come in and share this time with him in a place as beautiful as these places are. This past summer I was in a 1000 year old abbey and was able to pray where St. John Paul the Great prayed and it was beyond words what I felt to have this privilege I was truly humbled to be there.
 Advent is upon as now as we await the birth of our saviour. Really interesting resources out there and certainly worth looking around and reading through them. These days anything we can do and get for spiritual strength and formation we have to to be able to take it in. The internet has tons of articles retreats to help us so take advantage of them to make your advent not just the weeks leading to Christmas but a time to reflect and get stronger spiritually and prepare for the coming of our lord.
 Take care and have a blessed week!

Homily for Today

"You also must be ready!" [Mt. 24:44] Ready for what? For the coming of the Lord Jesus. Today, we are celebrating the First Sunday of Advent. Did you know that the word "Advent" means "coming?" Because the First Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of a time of prayer and fasting in preparation for the coming of the Lord, it is placed as the first Sunday of the Liturgical Calendar. Today marks the First Sunday of cycle A of the Liturgical Year.

What "coming" are we preparing ourselves for during the Advent Season? We are preparing ourselves for the coming of the Lord Jesus in three ways:

(1) First of all, we are preparing ourselves for the coming of the Lord as the Judge, either at death or at the end of this world, whichever may come first.

(2) Secondly, we are preparing ourselves to receive the physical presence of our Redeemer through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

(3) Thirdly, we are preparing ourselves for the coming of Christmas, the birthday anniversary of the Lord's coming into this world as God incarnate.

Today's First Reading from the Book of Isaiah [Is. 2:1-5] was a prophecy of the incarnation of the Lord God through Jesus Christ. Isaiah 2:2 states, "In days to come the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it."

The Jerome Biblical Commentary (page 268, 9.2) tells us that "the idea of the mountain of God as the goal of all nations is a very ancient one. The precise reference is to the northern part of the eastern hill of Jerusalem. This location was developed extensively during the reign of Solomon."

Isaiah 2:3 continues, "Many peoples shall come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.' For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem."

The mountain of God as a place of worship is mentioned in the Gospel of John where the Samaritan woman said to Jesus, "Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem." [Jn. 4:20] Why Jerusalem? Because it is the city that Jesus triumphantly entered to be crowned as King. [Mt. 21:1-11; Mk. 11:1-11; Lk. 19:28-30; Jn. 12:12-19] It is where Jesus, the Word of God, [Jn. 1:15] spent His last days before He was crucified. It is where Jesus, until the day when He was taken up to Heaven, gave instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he Had chosen. [Acts 1:2] It is the city that Jesus ordered the apostles not to leave, but wait there for the promise of the Father. [Acts 1:4]

Jerusalem, the root of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, became the center of "instruction" for all the nations.

The reading from the Book of Isaiah continued, "He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." [Is. 1:4]

Through Jerusalem, salvation came to the world. Through Jerusalem came the meaning of true love. Through Jerusalem came the fulfillment of everlasting justice and peace of the Kingdom of God. Consequently, we can now truly say, "let us walk in the light of the Lord!" [Is. 2:5]

Today's Second Reading from the Letter of Paul to the Romans [Rom. 13:11-4] reminds us that salvation is nearer to us now. No matter how we look at it, each day is a day closer to the day when we will come face to face with the Lord Jesus. This encounter may involve the return of Christ to judge the world and to gather His elect for their final reward. Or it may involve the day when our souls will suddenly be called to depart from this world. As recent world events have shown us, be it New York, Washington or through anthrax, we never know when the Lord God will call us.

St. Paul reminds us of that fact through his words. "You know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; let us live honourably as in the day, not in revelling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." [Rom. 13:11-4]

Yesterday, we were one day further from our face to face encounter with the Lord God. Last year, we were one year further from our face to face encounter with the Lord God. When we were baptized, we were quite a distance away from our face to face encounter with God. But now, the days are running short. Not knowing when we will come face to face with God, can we afford to live in sin and lose our souls? Certainly not! It is better to put on the armour of light and to walk in Christlikeness so we may inherit the Kingdom of God that awaits those who persevere in their living faith until the end.

As we heard during today's Gospel Reading, [Mt. 24:37-44] "Keep awake, therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming." [Mt. 24:42] In the midst of violence, suffering, injustice, persecution, indifference, Jesus, the messenger of peace, tells us to be vigilant.

The day on which the Son Man shall come, it shall be a day like in the days of Noah. [Mt. 24:37] The people will be eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the last minute. [Mt. 24:38] Nobody will know when the Lord shall return... for many it shall be too late. Acquaintances and families will be separated; some will be saved, others will be lost.

If all knew how close the day of the Lord is, surely, they would have all be living holy lives in fear of the punishment that awaits the unfaithful. But this is not the case. Look around! Can it be said that all are ready? Can it be said that all are in a state of grace? Can it be said that all have recently received the Sacrament of Confession? Can it be said that all obey the first precept of the Church and participate in the celebration of the Holy Mass on Sundays and holy days?

We do not know what will come first. Will it be Christmas Day to commemorate the coming of God through the incarnation of Jesus Christ? Will some of us die tonight in our sleep? Or will Jesus return tomorrow, that day being the last day of the world? Not knowing, "therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour." [Mt. 24:44]

First Sunday of Advent

Reading 1IS 2:1-5

This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz,
saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In days to come,
the mountain of the LORD’s house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
All nations shall stream toward it;
many peoples shall come and say:
“Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths.”
For from Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and impose terms on many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
one nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.
O house of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the Lord!

Responsorial PsalmPS 122: 1-2, 3-4, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
I rejoiced because they said to me,
“We will go up to the house of the LORD.”
And now we have set foot
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Jerusalem, built as a city
with compact unity.
To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
According to the decree for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
In it are set up judgment seats,
seats for the house of David.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
May those who love you prosper!
May peace be within your walls,
prosperity in your buildings.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Because of my brothers and friends
I will say, “Peace be within you!”
Because of the house of the LORD, our God,
I will pray for your good.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

Reading 2ROM 13:11-14

Brothers and sisters:
You know the time;
it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.
For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed;
the night is advanced, the day is at hand.
Let us then throw off the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light;
let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day,
not in orgies and drunkenness,
not in promiscuity and lust,
not in rivalry and jealousy.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.

AlleluiaCF. PS 85:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Show us Lord, your love;
and grant us your salvation.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 24:37-44

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As it was in the days of Noah,
so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
In those days before the flood,
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage,
up to the day that Noah entered the ark.
They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.
So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man.
Two men will be out in the field;
one will be taken, and one will be left. 
Two women will be grinding at the mill;
one will be taken, and one will be left. 
Therefore, stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. 
Be sure of this: if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”