Breaking Open the Word

1st Sunday of Advent - 11/27/2022


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Today is the First Sunday of Advent. The First Reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah and the Responsorial Psalm serve as a reminder of what will take place in the weeks ahead and what our desire and destination should be during this Advent season.

We hear in the Book of The Prophet Isaiah, “In the days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills.” Christ came to rescue humanity from its sinfulness, to establish the Kingdom of God on earth, and to point man to the New Jerusalem.

The Responsorial Psalm encapsulates what our “mission statement” should be for this upcoming Advent season – “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.” This Advent let’s strive to be joy-filled, to rejoice, and to journey towards the house of the Lord. As we do, let us be like the magi and seek out the new born child in the manger of Bethlehem.

Saint Paul, in his letter to the Romans and, Christ himself, in today’s Gospel reading remind us, however, that we must prepare ourselves for this Advent journey. They remind us to stay awake and on-guard from the thief who seeks to rob us from our joy and distract and tempt us along our pilgrimage.

Gospel Explained

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Regarding the house of the Lord, the First Reading cautions us that while “all nations will strive towards it” there will be a judgement that occurs when we get there. This is exactly what Jesus is warning us of in the Gospel reading. There will be a separation of the just and the unjust. It occurred with Noah and the great flood and it will occur in these times. The Book of Genesis described how Noah and his family, who were faithful to God, were separated and saved, while the wicked who rejected God perished. Noah and his family were prepared and awake to the commandments of God. The wicked were drowsy from their carousing and drunkenness and were completely unprepared when the flood came.

This separation will happen again, not in the flood, but when the Son of Man comes again. That coming while be either at the hour of our death or at the end times with the second coming of Christ. We know not the time, so we have to be prepared and fully awake.

The analogy of the thief is a good one, for there is a thief who prowls the earth. This thief, Satan, desires nothing more than to rob us of our joy. This thief wants us to get lost on our journey to the house of the Lord, to take a detour and travel the path of orgies and drunkenness, promiscuity and lust, and rivalry and jealousy.

Today's Theme

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Today begins a new liturgical year – in our Catholic faith it is New Year’s Day! It is the Advent season, a season of great joy, of renewed hope, of rebirth in the form of a babe in a manger. The Son of Man has come to dwell among us. Our salvation is at hand.

It is a time to re-set our internal compass, to map out a new destination, and set out on a new pilgrimage. It is less about where we have been this past year, and more about where we are going in the new year.

As we begin this Advent season, let us quiet ourselves as ask – “Where have I been this past year?” “Where do I want to go in the new year?”; “How do I get there?” With answers to those deep questions, let us prepare ourselves and set out on our journey with joy.

Theme in our Life Today

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“Be prepared” and “Stay Awake”. It is easy to receive those words, but how do we implement them in our daily lives?

Be prepared – How can we prepare ourselves, not only for Christmas Day but for the time the Son of Man comes to meet us? That may vary from individual to individual, but these are a few suggestions - Purchase a book of daily devotionals and read and reflect on them daily; or, download an on-line application and read the daily readings each day; or, attend Mass regularly and receive the Eucharist often; or, buy a journal and spend a few minutes each morning writing of your hopes and fears in the upcoming day or in the evenings reflect back and write of  the experiences of the day; or attend the Sacrament of Reconciliation often.  None of us can do them all, but all of us can start somewhere.

Stay Awake – We are one of the most sleep-deprived generations in history. We are constantly awake, but are we ever attuned? Have we become drowsy in all of our busyness? This may be a shock, but there is nothing we can do to increase the number of hours in our day. We have so many hours in the day. How do we use them?

Some things in our modern world make us drowsy even when we are supposedly awake. That makes us susceptible to the thief in the night. How much time do you spend on social media, in front of the television, watching the news, or surfing the internet? This Advent season, let’s ask ourselves – what am I doing when I am awake? What do I need to change to be fully awake and attuned to those around me (including God)?

Prepare for Sunday

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“Where have you been this past year?”; “Where do you want to go in the new year?”; “How do you hope to get there?”

Where do you see the presence of the thief in your life? What is that thief robbing you of?

Were the Son of Man to come for you today would you be prepared to meet Him? Why or why not? If you are not, how do you go about changing that?