First Sunday Advent 2012

Scripture readings for this Sunday's mass are here.

Various reflections on the readings from St Louis Centre for Liturgy USA from here,

including this fine one from Fr. John Foley S.J. who asks the question
 " Why Do We Have Advent?" and I have extracted the part which includes his helpful guide to the Church's liturgical strategy for Advent Sunday readings.

"The very clear message of Advent is, “Settle down for a while.” Open the door just a crack to let God in.

"The Church has a liturgical strategy in the Advent Sunday readings. Each week’s First Reading is the carrot: usually positive, a promise of good. Then the Gospel hits you with a big stick to wake you up.

Take the encouraging First Reading this Sunday. It reminds us of the promise God has made to his people: rightness and justice will come to the earth. Security. The day of the Lord will arrive, though long delayed. Peace in our day.

What a lovely thing it is to desire such a time. Too good to be true? Just pious thought? 

Read the First Reading now and ask yourself those questions. Spend time with them. Pray to God for help. 

The Responsorial Psalm will help you. It asks God to make known his ways to us, to guide us and teach us.

The Second Reading urges us to put God’s promise of peace into action, even if we are not yet sure what it means. Love others and be loved.

Ah, and then the Gospel. It tries to wake us up, especially if the above has not helped. “But I am perfectly awake,” you say. Alright then, go ahead and read the Gospel. It is the “stick.”

Signs in the sun, moon and stars, nations in dismay, the roaring of the sea and the waves, people dying of fright, and the Son of Man appearing in the clouds with power and great glory.


So you are all ready for it? Let yourself imagine what it might be like. Picture it scene by scene and don’t worry about being exact. Just experience it.

Will such a shakeup really happen literally? We do not know. Maybe much worse is to come, judging from the state of the world today. Do you live without fear of terrorist acts, of proliferating nuclear weapons, of a horrific climate change, of a crash of the entire world economy or the greed that fills so many hearts to overflowing in your city, in your state, your world?

                                                                    Ben Shahn Beatitudes

If you can say “You are right, I am afraid of these,” then go back to the Responsorial Psalm and pray. 

Beg that Christ be given birth in your soul and in so many others in this world that need it so badly.

Welcome to Advent."


The news of Advent announced that when Jesus was born, God arrived on earth. 
This gospel proclamation - "kerygma" - has changed and turned countless lives upside down

 No matter how many times I hear the Advent and Christmas scriptures,  I always hope it will do the same here, now, for myself and for the whole wide beautiful messed up crazy world.

Advent is one turning point of the year when our life can shift from the ache of living and longing for God to a moment of healing and joy when we realise the awesome gift we are being given in the incarnation.

St Bernard talked about three Advents; the first was the incarnation at Christmas, the second Advent is the passage of Christ through our lives and our world in the here and now; it is the presence of God in our hearts and soul at every moment of our lives.

The Third Advent will be the end of time when Christ will come again to the whole world.  

Thomas Merton said that the Second or Middle Advent , the present time of any individual life, is a way of living the mystery and is necessarily a time of anguish, a time of conflict  between fear and joy.  

We wait ....

I think the poem "Seeing For A Moment" by Denise Levertov is a great "Second Advent poem."  

It vividly describes the pain and struggle we have in facing some apocalyptic fears.

 I like it for those strange times of deep mystery I have often experienced in Advent, when I am stuck and then something moves me forward only to end up in another dead end. 

 Her poem incisively describes those times when I am suspended between recurrent cycles of hope and doubt, between elation and being confounded by my own vain efforts and understanding. 

But in the final stanza,  the frustration and restlessness of waiting is broken through not by my own efforts but by the grace of God that comes in waves of the Word.

The blurred vision is cleared and enables a tantalising sight of God even if it is only for a moment.

 Parts of the poem also echo Paul's words to the Corinthians.

"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

Seeing For A Moment

I thought I was growing wings—
it was a cocoon.

I thought, now is the time to step
into the fire—
it was deep water.
Eschatology is a word I learned
as a child: the study of Last Things;
facing my mirror—no longer young,
   the news—always of death,
   the dogs—rising from sleep and clamoring
      and howling, howling,

I see for a moment
that's not it: it is
the First Things.

Word after word
floats through the glass.
Towards me.

Merton says the Second Advent is at times a hidden Advent when wisdom "without the noise of words" builds a house in our hearts. It is a time when we learn to distrust our own powers, convince ourselves that we can do nothing without God and yet at the same time not neglect any effort to do God's will as "wayfarers."

But Merton says this is a salutary struggle and more a time of consolation if we reflect that Christ really does come to us and gives Himself to us, so that we already possess our heaven in hope.

Merton saysIt may mean quiescence, darkness and emptiness but in this darkness God comes to us and works mysteriously in us in spirit and in truth so that the fruit of His work may be made manifest in the Third Advent when he comes in "glory and majesty"

A great song for Advent and / or  any time when I get impatient by
  Mahalia Jackson

"You can’t hurry God, no, you just have to wait
You gotta trust him and give him time, child, no matter how long it takes
He’s a God you can’t hurry, but he’ll be there, don’t you worry
You know he may not come when you want him, but he’s right on time."

Related Reflections

From Fr.Thomas Rosica here Edited extract below...

"Let me leave you with some reflections on hope as we enter this most blessed season of patient longing and joyful expectation of the Lord Jesus. First, a wonderful section of the Parochial and Plain Sermons of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman:
They watch for Christ who are sensitive, eager, apprehensive in mind, who are awake, alive, quick-sighted, zealous in honoring him, who look for him in all that happens, and who would not be surprised, who would not be over-agitated or overwhelmed, if they found that he was coming at once…
This then is to watch: to be detached from what is present, and to live in what is unseen; to live in the thought of Christ as he came once, and as he will come again; to desire his second coming, from our affectionate and grateful remembrance of his first.
 Image source

Finally, this moving reflection on hope by the late Fr. James Keller, M.M., Founder of The Christophers:
Hope looks for the good in people instead of harping on the worst.?
Hope opens doors where despair closes them. ?
Hope discovers what can be done instead of grumbling about what cannot.?
Hope draws its power from a deep trust in God and the basic goodness of human nature.?
Hope “lights a candle” instead of “cursing the darkness.” ?
Hope regards problems, small or large, as opportunities. ?
Hope cherishes no illusions, nor does it yield to cynicism.?
Hope sets big goals and is not frustrated by repeated difficulties or setbacks.?
Hope pushes ahead when it would be easy to quit.?
Hope puts up with modest gains, realizing that “the longest journey starts with one step.”?
Hope accepts misunderstandings as the price for serving the greater good of others.?
Hope is a good loser because it has the divine assurance of final victory.

This video has some beautiful nature shots and is an uplifting hymn of Advent Hope...

Everlasting God Chris Tomlin


The Old Testament readings for the beginning of Advent this Sunday coincide with World AIDS Day on December 1. 

Click here for a moving reflection  titled "A Season of Difficult Hope" by Art Ammann.  In 1982, he documented the first cases of AIDS transmission from mother to infant, and also the first blood transfusion AIDS patients.

In 1998 Ammann founded Global Strategies for HIV Prevention, where today he ministers around the world. With a special focus on women and children to reduce maternal and infant mortality, Global Strategies implements simple, inexpensive interventions with high impact in the poorest regions of the world.

This 2010 post for the start of Advent is from one of my favourite bloggers, Fr.Dan Horan at Dating God, and he has provided some snippets from Thomas Merton's essay "Advent : Hope or Delusion ?"

and also this recent and challenging one: Advent Resolutions For A New Church Year.

Jan's beautiful artwork is truly inspirational .
My post from 2010 is here

My post for 2011 is here

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 Just an advance notice that I will be away from blogging AFTER the Second Sunday of Advent until after Christmas, but I hope readers will find something of use from the archives on my blog sidebar and there is always the search box, again located on my side bar.

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