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For Advent 1:
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
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Advent 1-A: Isaiah 2:1-5;
Ps 122; Rom 13:11-14; Mt 24:36-44
Homily: “Keep awake, therefore, for you do not know at what hour your Lord is coming” (Mt 24:42)
My brothers and sisters in Christ, ministers also in Christ’s name.
What is your view of the future? In terms of the old cliché, is the light at the end of the tunnel a disastrous train headed to destroy you or is it the radiating glory of God inviting you to enter? A Methodist bishop once said in a sermon: We should live our lives not pushed by our problems but led by our visions. What is your vision? Let’s explore this.
Today may be the Sunday after Thanksgiving, but it is also the First Sunday of Advent and the beginning of the Church year, and the 4th day of Channukah. And starting the Church’s New Year on this day is a custom older than our own American New Year's Day, which comes in Gregorian Calendar on January 1st.
The measurement of time is indeed relative. The academic or school year began early last September, the Jewish New Year began in late September, the Church calendar begins today, our social or cultural year begins in a short while on January 1st, and then we have the various economic or fiscal years, and so forth.
This emphasis on time is one of the themes of Advent, for the readings from Sacred Scripture and the themes in the various prayers of the Liturgy call to mind for us the relative nature of all time in relationship to eternity, in relationship to God's Providence or overseeing of history, ours and that of the whole human race.
The Church year or calendar was created by Christians to help disciples of Jesus comprehend the profound reality of what God has done, is doing, and will do in human history in and through the life, death, resurrection and glorification of Jesus of Nazareth, a mystery so profound that we have to take it in small pieces in order to comprehend it. Put another way, the mystery of Christ is like a great diamond, and we see a different face of the diamond with each Church season. Within that season or that face of the diamond, we have the individual cuts, the individual Sundays which collectively give us the vision of the whole season, that part of the great mystery of Christ which we are seeking to grasp. The Advent season, built on the Biblical hope for the coming of the Messiah, confronts us with our vision of the future and the implications of that vision for our present actions.
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[Photobooks published by Fr. Joseph Clayton Neiman. To see some pages or to order copies, click on picture which will take you to www.blurb.com.]