November 27, 2015

First Sunday of Advent / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionWith the First Sunday of Advent, the Church begins a new liturgical year. As such, the readings for Sunday for the year to come will be from the “C” cycle of the Lectionary, the collection of biblical texts used by the Church for readings at Masses.

The first reading for this weekend is from the Book of Jeremiah, written when times were hard for God’s people. The dynasty formed by King David had disappeared, extinguished by infighting and internal intrigue. Its collapse had deep religious implications.

God had a covenant with David, and with his successors. Their task was not just to govern, but also to keep the nation of Israel faithful to God.

With the end of the unified monarchy under David and his heirs, no other figure or authority had God’s commission to exercise the role of strengthening the national bond with the Almighty.

More ominously, it seemed as if the instrument selected by God for this purpose, namely the Davidic dynasty, somehow yielded to pressures and temptations. It seemed as if too often the kings forgot their obligation to preserve the people’s relationship with God.

Despite these circumstances, Jeremiah promised that indeed God’s faithfulness would endure. His justice would endure. The people must not lose faith.

For its second reading, the Church presents a passage from St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Thessalonians. In it, Paul calls upon the Christians of Thessalonica to love each other. The call was simple, but not easily achieved given human nature. Christians must love all, no one excluded.

Paul insists that the Lord soon will return to Earth in triumph as the great judge. It will be a revolutionary moment. All evil will be subdued. Good and truth will reign supreme. Jesus will reign.

Christians should prepare themselves for this great event by loving others in the model of Jesus, who loved all humanity, even to the point of sacrifice on Calvary.

St. Luke’s Gospel furnishes the last reading. When reading or hearing a reading from any of the Gospels, it is important to realize that they were likely written generations after Jesus.

This does not mean that the Gospels are fiction. Rather, it recognizes the fact that each evangelist saw the coming of Christ and happenings in the life of Christ with his own perception, and also as the meaning of this life influenced by events occurring after Jesus. The message of Jesus is timeless.

When Luke’s Gospel was written, the tide was turning against Christians. The culture was against them. So was the law. They were in danger.

St. Luke recalled words of Jesus to encourage and embolden Christians. Come what may, so the Gospel reassures, the Lord will return. Despite the anguish of a particular moment, Jesus will be victorious and will come again.


Advent often is described as a time to prepare for Christmas. It is this, but it has two other purposes. It exists to enable us to reform ourselves, so that the Lord can come to us on any day.

Finally, it calls us to prepare ourselves for the decisive coming of Jesus when we die, and at the end of time, by reminding us that we are mortal, and that Jesus will return to the Earth. He will vindicate the right. The forces of evil will wither and die. They will fall before the glory of the risen Lord.

He will reign forever. Everything else will pass away.

We must be with the Lord or place ourselves in opposition to the Lord. If we reject God, we shall die and be separated from him forever.

How do we prepare for all this? We prepare by keeping first and foremost our purpose to love God above all else, and by making everything secondary to that determination. †

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