First Sunday of Advent 2014

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November 30, 2014

Lectionary: 2

Reading 1 IS 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7

A reading from the book of the Prophet Isaiah.  This reading is in the context of the Babylonian exile.  The Jews were captured and taken away from their homes.  Only a remnant remained in Jerusalem.  The rest were living in captivity in far away lands.  God permitted this because of their disobedience.  It was a result of the curses which God proclaimed in the very beginning, in the book of Deuteronomy in the “Punishment for idolatry”.

You, LORD, are our father,

God is our Father, because He is the creator of all things.

our redeemer you are named forever.

Our redeemer is a reference to the Messiah, who will pay for the sins of mankind and unite us to God.

Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways,

and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?

The answer to this question is, because they are rebellious and do not obey.  It is the consequence of their rebellion.

Return for the sake of your servants,

the tribes of your heritage.

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,

with the mountains quaking before you,

while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for,

such as they had not heard of from of old.

No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you

doing such deeds for those who wait for him.

This is a reference to the Exodus, when God saved Israel from Egypt. 

Would that you might meet us doing right,

that we were mindful of you in our ways!

Isaiah is interceding for the people of Israel.  He is crying out for forgiveness and mercy.  This is very important because Isaiah is a righteous man and it is to the righteous that God pays heed.

Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful;

all of us have become like unclean people,

all our good deeds are like polluted rags;

we have all withered like leaves,

and our guilt carries us away like the wind.

There is none who calls upon your name,

who rouses himself to cling to you;

for you have hidden your face from us

and have delivered us up to our guilt.

Yet, O LORD, you are our father;

we are the clay and you the potter:

we are all the work of your hands.

Isaiah is trusting in the mercy of God.  He knows that the people of Israel are “anawim”, they are “poor in spirit” and can offer God nothing but their repentance and sorrow for their sins.

Responsorial Psalm PS 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19

R/ (4) Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

We have seen the face of God in Jesus Christ, our Saviour.

O shepherd of Israel, hearken,

from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.

A reference to the Ark of the Covenant.  Two angels, or cherubim, were carved upon it on either side of the Mercy Seat.

Rouse your power,

and come to save us.

The Psalmist,  King David, calls for God to come and save the nation.

R/ Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

Once again, O LORD of hosts,

look down from heaven, and see;

take care of this vine,

and protect what your right hand has planted

the son of man whom you yourself made strong.

Like Isaiah, the Psalmist admits that without God’s grace, we can do nothing good.

R/ Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

May your help be with the man of your right hand,

with the son of man whom you yourself made strong.

Then we will no more withdraw from you;

give us new life, and we will call upon your name.

R/ Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

And this final stanza recognizes the coming of the Son of Man, which is euphemism for the Messiah, Jesus Christ, our Saviour.

Reading 2 1 COR 1:3-9

The 2nd reading is from the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians.

Brothers and sisters:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father

and the Lord Jesus Christ.

He begins with a blessing which hearkens back to the Gospels. 

I give thanks to my God always on your account

for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus,

that in him you were enriched in every way,

with all discourse and all knowledge,

This is a reference to his prior visit and to the initiation of many of them into the Christian faith.

as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you,

so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift

as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is a reference to their having received the Sacrament of Confirmation and thus having received the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

He will keep you firm to the end,

irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God is faithful,

and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son,

Jesus Christ our Lord.

This is not a proclamation of absolute salvation.  Although that is how it sounds.  It is a proclamation of the hope we have in Jesus Christ.  There are many other texts where St. Paul speaks of the assurance of hope in our salvation.

Alleluia PS 85:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Show us Lord, your love;

and grant us your salvation.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Alleluia means “God be praised”.  And in this prayer, we are calling for that which God has already shown us in His Son.  His love and His salvation.

Gospel MK 13:33-37

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Be watchful! Be alert!

Christ warns His disciples to work out their salvation in fear and trembling.

You do not know when the time will come.

You don’t know when you will die.

It is like a man traveling abroad.

He leaves home and places his servants in charge,

each with his own work,

and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.

Nor do you know when the Son of man will come back.

Watch, therefore;

you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,

whether in the evening, or at midnight,

or at cockcrow, or in the morning.

Therefore, be prepared.

May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.

What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”

All of us must be aware of this.  Not just our priests or rulers in the Church.  We must all be conscious of our actions and do the will of God.  Because we don’t know when He will call us home.

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