Sunday Readings

Preparing for a Christian Christmas. I Sunday of Advent (A)

Joseph Evans comments on the readings for the First Sunday of Advent and Luis Herrera offers a short video homily.

Joseph Evans-November 24, 2022-Reading time: 2 minutes

We think of Advent as a time of joy, waiting for Christmas and the coming of our Savior. But if we don't pay attention, we may limit our vision. On December 25 this year 2022, with 2023 just around the corner.

But the Church wants to shake us both from our complacency and from our time-bound vision. Today's readings, the first Sunday of Advent, look toward the end of time. The first reading, from the prophet Isaiah, encourages us to glimpse the "eschatological mountain," the heavenly Jerusalem that will be inaugurated at the end of history, a place of peace and celebration, where the kingdom of God will be definitively established. But the Gospel warns us not to overdo the celebration in advance. It is a terrifying text that reminds us of the universal flood of Noah's day, which swept away all but the patriarch and his closest family. 

So why does the Church want to wake us up at the beginning of Advent? The point is that we cannot reduce Christmas to a "saccharine" celebration, where the main focus is on eating and drinking (often also during Advent). Christmas is about salvation, but salvation is for those who wish to receive it. Noah was prepared for God's salvation. Most people of his time were not. It was ordinary life: eating, drinking, marrying, the work of the men in the fields, the grinding of corn by the women; but some were open to God through their daily activities, and some were not. Some were saved, others were swept away. 

Advent, therefore, points to openness to God's salvation. This requires an extra effort, to go about our ordinary tasks with a greater sense of his presence and the many ways he comes to us each day: in a person in need, in an opportunity to share his Cross, in an invitation to grow in grace. "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.". It is not only about food and Christmas gifts. Let us rather think of the end times and the heavenly joy that awaits us if we are faithful. But for this we must resist the sin and corruption that led to the destruction of the people in Noah's time, and that will lead to the destruction of all those who in our time live with their hearts closed to God. 

Jesus then uses the example of a thief who tries to enter our house: to open ourselves to God we must reject the devil, who in many ways tries to break through the walls of our heart. St. Paul, in the second reading, is more explicit: "It is time for you to awake from sleep... Let us abandon the works of darkness.". And he insists: "Not in binge eating and drunkenness, not in debauchery, not in strife and envy.".

So Merry Christmas, but not a corrupt Christmas. Merry Christmas, but a Christian Christmas, prepared -every day- for the unexpected arrival of Christ.

The homily on the readings of Sunday 33rd Sunday

The priest Luis Herrera Campo offers its nanomiliaa small one-minute reflection for these readings.

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