Sunday, November 29, 2009

First Sunday of Advent

Dear All,

This week we begin a new Liturgical Year. This year it is cycle C as it is designated in the Roman Lectionary. We retell the story about the mysteries of our salvation in history, by following the third Synoptic Gospel, according to Luke. Like in every year we will also read certain passages of the fourth Gospel, according to John, but our featured writer will be the Greek physician and companion of Paul who lived when Jesus walked the earth and writes with the Gentiles as main audience. Of all the authors of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James, Jude) he is the only one who is not from Jewish upbringing. He is also the author of the Acts of the Apostles.

Every new Liturgical Year begins with the season of Advent, a time of anticipation, time of preparation, getting ready. The word has a Latin root, Adventus (= arrival) meaning a time of waiting for the arrival. On the traditional advent wreath we light the first candle which we call of hope during the First Advent Sunday. We remember and commemorate the arrival of Christ over two thousand years ago, as well as preparing ourselves for Christ’s second coming at the end of times. It also invites us to conceive Christ in the Spirit in our own lives here and now, swell pregnant with the holy seed of God’s grace and stir the womb of our complacency. A time for turning and returning, for straightening the crooked paths in our relationships with our fellow men and women (in German the word “Mitmenschen” denotes humans with whom we share our spaces, the world) and our relationship with God. If I focus on this third invitation, this season of advent may convert from a passive period (of remembrance of God’s first incarnation and waiting for the second coming) into an opportunity to become active in the waiting, by welcoming and befriending the vulnerable, the stranger as well as the desert places in myself.

The Prophet Jeremiah, imprisoned by King Zedekiah, utters words of hope to the people of Israel at times of great despair (587 BC the Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonian invaders) foretelling the coming of a Savior, the Messiah, as a descendant of the house of David. Christian tradition sees Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy. “The Lord our justice” is our hope and salvation.

The apostle Paul, who expected to experience Christ’s second coming during his lifetime, in his letter to the recently converted Thessalonians offers advice about how believers ought to be living their lives in anticipation of such second coming. While Jesus did not come then, nor may be coming during our lifetime, Paul’s advice remains very important, as there is no better time to conduct ourselves in ways pleasing to God.

Luke’s Gospel this week paints a scene with vivid colors of what the last times may bring with a terrible storm raging through the first paragraph. The apocalyptic message turns to a momentary brightening of the sky in the second paragraph, yet clouds close in again in the final paragraph. Luke is not just trying to terrify, but offering hope reminding us we don’t have to be among the ones who panic, but stand erect and raise our heads knowing that redemption is at hand. Christ is not just the babe in the manger, but a cosmic Lord whose glory fills us with awe.

The complete text of today’s Readings can be found at

With God’s Love and Blessings,


For a Print version (pdf file) go to

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