First Sunday of Advent: Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly Kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
Sunday Readings for the First Sunday of Advent, Cycle A: (27/11/2022)
The First Reading is taken from Isaiah 2:1-5. Today’s lesson from Isaiah contains one of the encouraging speeches which God’s great prophet addressed to his fellow-Jews, to help them persevere in their faith in God. Days of distress and tribulation lay ahead. Jerusalem, their beloved and holy city, the site of the temple where the true God manifested his power and his mercy among them, was to be razed one day to the ground, because of their sins. But when the great day came and God fulfilled his promises to them, Jerusalem would once more be the glory and the pride, not only of the Jews, but of all nations.
This prophecy of Isaiah, spoken 700 years before the coming of Christ, has been fulfilled. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” And we today, thousands of miles from Jerusalem, and almost two thousand years after his coming among us, are preparing ourselves for the annual commemoration of that greatest event of history.
The Second Reading is taken from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans 13:11-14. In the verses chosen for today’s second reading, St. Paul urges Roman Christians to keep the purpose of their conversion, of their acceptance of the gospel, of true salvation, always before their eyes. They had accepted Christ in order to merit enteral salvation; for this reason, they must “Cast off the works of darkness,” in which they indulged before their conversion.
The Gospel is taken from Matthew 24:37-44. St. Matthew gives us a discourse which our Lord held with his disciples concerning the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem and the Parousia, or the second coming of Christ as judge of the world. In the verses we read today Christ is speaking of his second coming, and emphasises its unexpectedness and suddenness.
In today’s lesson it is Christ himself who is asking each one of us so to live our lives that no matter when we are called to judgement we shall not be found wanting. This does not mean that we must always be praying. Nor does it mean that we must take no interest in the affairs of this life. Of the two men working in the field and the two women grinding corn, one of each was found unworthy, not because of the work he or she was doing, but because that work had for them wrongly excluded God and his purpose in life. The two found worthy had room for God and their own eternal welfare in their hearts—their work was part of their loyal service to God and was a means towards their salvation.
Christmas comes but once a year but its meaning, its lesson, must remain in our hearts and minds all the year round. God wants us in heaven forever. He sent his Son on earth to bring us there. Aided by God’s grace we resolve today so to live our lives that when death claims us, we shall meet Christ, not as condemning judge, but as a loving brother.
Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan, O.F.M.