December 1, 2019 • First Sunday in Advent
First Reading: Isaiah 2:1–5
Psalm: Psalm 122:1–2, 3–4, 4–5, 6–7, 8–9
Second Reading: Romans 13:11–14
Gospel Acclamation: cf. Psalm 85:8
Gospel: Matthew 24:37–44
This Sunday marks the beginning of Advent, and the readings reflect our longing for God to deliver us from ourselves by His presence in our lives.
The first reading, the Psalm and the Gospel Acclamation speak of going up to the House of the Lord rejoicing — to the temple in Jerusalem, where God was present among His people. And by so doing, they might worship Him, receive instruction in His word and walk in His light. That was the focal point of the people of God, of those who truly loved Him. The temple was open to all the nations; that is why Jerusalem was often filled with foreigners, Jews and Gentile proselytes and God-fearers who thronged the place at the times of the seasonal feasts, especially the Passover. But present also in the Old Testament was the promise of and longing for the coming Messiah, who was promised therein when the temple of God would come among them, no matter where they were. God with us, Emmanuel — the first coming of Jesus. And only the people who had prepared themselves recognized Him readily at His coming, people like John the Baptist, Simeon and Anna.
The second reading from Romans and the Gospel from Matthew shift our focus to our longing for the promised second coming of Jesus, which really could happen anytime, at a time we know not.
Therefore, we must prepare ourselves for what really matters, the coming of Christ, by focusing on it. Not the things of this world, which are passing, but Jesus and His coming kingdom in its fullness. The emphasis in these two passages is on being ready in joyful anticipation. Setting aside our worldly pursuits and focusing during Advent through the penitential services and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we focus on the Incarnation of God the Son as the infant in the manager and seek to go back in time to join the anticipation of the faithful people of God in the Old Testament. We seek to look upon the wonder of it all with fresh eyes, in the liturgy and parish events of the season. Advent also marks the beginning of the new liturgical year of the Church, when we begin a new cycle of readings, looking at the wonder of God’s plan of salvation from new perspectives and angles.
May God bless us all this Advent season as we take stock of where we are with the Lord. May He help us see and make the necessary course corrections to be prepared for His coming into our lives.