Sun., Dec. 16 – Third Sunday of Advent
This Sunday’s Gospel continues last week’s focus on John the Baptist and his role in preparing the way for Christ. Recall that last week’s reading described John’s appearance in the desert and established his connection with the prophetic tradition of Israel. If we were to read Luke’s Gospel continuously, we would learn about John the Baptist challenging the crowds who came to him and calling upon them to show evidence of their repentance. John tells his listeners that they cannot rely on their lineage as Israelites because children of Abraham can be raised up from stones. Repentance, rather, must be observable in one’s actions. Here, Luke is continuing to set up two important themes of his Gospel message: the Christian faith is expressed in one’s actions, and the call to salvation is extended to everyone, Jews and Gentiles.
In today’s Gospel reading, the crowds ask John the Baptist for specifics. What evidence of repentance is required? John replies by naming concrete actions: crowds should share their food and cloaks; tax collectors should be just; soldiers should act fairly. The concern for justice is a hallmark of Luke’s Gospel.
When the crowd begins to wonder if John the Baptist might be the Messiah, John interprets his baptism and makes it clear that his ministry is in preparation for the Messiah. John the Baptist knows his place and role in God’s plan of salvation. By encouraging the crowd to act similarly in accordance with their stations in life, John’s teaching suggests that each person has a role to play in God’s salvation. It is the great mystery of our salvation that God permits and even asks for human cooperation in his divine plans.
The third Sunday of Advent is also called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is a Latin word that means “rejoice.” This name is taken from the entrance antiphon for Sunday’s Mass, which is also echoed in today’s second reading from the Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Some people mark this Sunday by lighting a pink candle instead of a purple one on their Advent wreath. It is a reminder that the Advent season is a season of joy because our salvation is already at hand.
Information courtesy of Loyola Press.
Sun., Dec. 9 – Second Sunday of Advent
Have you heard about “God’s dream for the world”? Hello, I’m Father Greg Friedman, and this is the “Sunday Soundbite” for the Second Sunday of Advent.
That phrase—God’s dream for the world—is a favorite expression of a colleague of mine. He uses it to describe how he interprets Scripture passages like those from Isaiah and St. Paul in today’s liturgy. My friend says that God’s dream for the world is a vision of all of creation—reconciled, at peace, full of the justice and harmony intended for it by our Creator.
Isaiah’s “peaceable kingdom”—a scene favored by artists, where the lion and the lamb play together—is an expression of what God envisions for all of us: the beautiful earth, healed of the ravages of greed and pollution; humanity living according to God’s wisdom, understanding, justice. St. Paul encourages the gentile Christians of the Church at Rome to see themselves united with Paul’s Jewish brothers and sisters in coming together to praise God.
Accomplishing this dream of God means a real and radical change of heart, true conversion. Such change doesn’t come easy, as we know. Just look around at our world—or better yet, we might look inside our own hearts. We need the prophetic “wake-up call” of John the Baptist in Matthew’s Gospel today to summon us to conversion. We will need God’s grace and power, present in Jesus Christ.
Sun., Dec. 2 – First Sunday of Advent
Lord, our God, we praise You for Your Son, Jesus Christ, for He is Emmanuel, the Hope of all people.
He is the Wisdom that teaches and guides us.
He is the Savior of us all.
let your blessing come upon us as we light the first (purple) candle of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light be a sign of Christ’s promise of salvation.
May He come quickly and not delay.
We ask this in His holy name. Amen.
Courtesy of EWTN.
We light a advent candle today, a small dim light against a world that often seems forbidding and dark. But we light it because we are a people of hope, a people whose faith is marked by an expectation that we should always be ready for the coming of the Master. The joy and anticipation of this season is captured beautifully in the antiphons of hope from the monastic liturgies:
See! The ruler of the earth shall come, the Lord who will take from us the heavy burden of our exile
The Lord will come soon, will not delay.
The Lord will make the darkest places bright.
We must capture that urgency today in the small flame of our candle. We light the candle because we know that the coming of Christ is tied to our building of the kingdom. Lighting the flame, feeding the hungry, comforting the sick, reconciling the divided, praying for the repentant, greeting the lonely and forgotten – doing all these works hastens His coming.
Courtesy of EWTN.
To try this week
We encourage you to try one (or more) of the following items this week to enrich your Advent experience and draw you closer to Christ.
- Do a random act of kindness for someone you don’t know (buy someone’s coffee, bring flowers to a nursing home, bake cookies for a neighbor you don’t know well).
- Send a note or card to someone who may be going through a difficult time this Advent and Christmas season.
- Spend uninterrupted (phone-free) time with your spouse and/or children. Do something fun, like play a game, go out for coffee or hot chocolate, or read a book.
- Tell someone you love them/appreciate them/admire them/etc.