ICCH Bulletin of November 27, 2022
November 27, 2022 First Sunday of Advent
Welcome Father Eckhard Today’s Readings: Is 2:1-5 | Rom 13:11-14 | Mt 24:37-44
Advent blessings to all of you! Everything reminds us Advent is here […] We need the festive, hopeful tones, the feel-good movies, and the cookies; if we are honest, it has been a foggy, gloomy kind of year. Yet, even if we must “escape” into the folly, let us pray with our Church this season. Let us make “space” for the sacredness of this season- We need that as well!
Each Sunday of Advent, we will light a candle. Let us cherish this simple, calming practice as our way to take notice of the “Reason for the Season.” May we light each candle with the intention of adding our light to the darkness and uncertainty surrounding us, with the willingness to do our part to bring about God’s Reign in our world. Today’s readings, like our Advent candle, invite us into this sacred time. First, they heed us to take notice. Then they encourage us to stay awake. And finally, they advise us to be prepared; for three movements: NOTICE, AWAKE and PREPARED.
The scripture today heeds us to take notice of the times we live through. We find mentions of war, darkness, and even the great flood! Before we escape into the Christmas movies with happy endings or the lights around the house, we are compelled to notice our time. The Great Flood Jesus alludes to in the Gospel today should serve as a warning… Remember Noah building the ark, telling people to get ready, and gathering the animals? We, too, have Noahs around us; prophets who care for our common home, telling us to do something about our carbon footprint, work for climate justice, live with what we need, and advocate for clean energy. How many “floods” have we witnessed already? Remember Germany, or the most devasting floods in history in Pakistan, or […] in Puerto Rico and Florida? We hear Jesus’s words as we ponder those images: “They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man?”
And there is so much to notice! What about the violence around us? The violence that has taken the lives of school children […]. The violence that makes a home unsafe for a woman. The violence that has destroyed countries around our world - from Tigray to Ukraine to Nicaragua. How can we hear the prophet Isaiah without remembering the millions of people displaced by violence worldwide? “They shall beat their swords into plowshares… one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” We light a candle to remember to notice, to remember to bring light into this darkness that surrounds us, to pray with the Psalm “Because of my brothers, [sisters] and friends I will say “Peace be with you!” Shalom. “Because of the House of the Lord… I will pray for your good.” May our lights this season be a blessing of Shalom, of the peace our community needs.
Paul writes to the Romans that “it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.” But this is not just a gentle wake-up call. Jesus is emphatic, and the Gospel reading has an exclamation mark. It is not simply- “stay awake”- but a command “Stay awake!” [exclamation] We use exclamations too loosely, but when we find them in the Gospel, we must pay attention. Jesus is “ordering” his followers to “stay awake, for you do not know on which day your Lord will come.”
The times we live in make it easier for us to understand this “you do not know on which day.” As we review the pandemic years, we had no idea who would die from COVID and who wouldn’t. We are saddened by the families grieving the loss of a loved one who went for a stroll or was getting ready for a parade. For sure, Jesus’s words, “you do not know on which day,”- ring more true all around us. But what do you do? How do you stay awake? What does it mean to stay awake? Beyond the caffeine, or “armoring” our life and house to prepare for the “thieves,” as the reading warns, I believe that staying awake is a spiritual practice. Words like conscious, alert, and alive come to mind when we try to understand what awake means. This Advent season, we are called to move beyond noticing what goes on around us. We need to pray for a conversion of heart, to kindle our soul’s light, to hope, to trust, and to believe, so we can genuinely “throw off the works of darkness.” The silence of those who stay awake through the night is a good practice. We need to keep our souls awake, alive, and aware.
The Christian life is an active life, a movement, a constant process. Today’s readings have many “actions.” Isaiah has nations streaming toward the highest mountain. The prophet heeds us to “climb the Lord’s mountain” to “walk his paths.” The Psalm responds to the first reading with more movement […] Paul´s letter to the Romans has its call to action: “put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day.” This advent season, we have some “doing” to do and some “moving” to do. Isaiah and Paul help us understand Jesus when he says: “you must also be prepared.”
Preparing the way is not just decorating, reading, or meditating - though, all those practices are graced reminders of the season we begin. Preparing the way is moving, walking in Jesus’ paths, and finding those he blessed, healed and accompanied. Are there persons in our community who could use a visit this season when loss and sadness are more palpable? Couldn’t we spare a warm sweater or jacket for our houseless brothers or sisters? What about volunteering some place…? Whom do we need to forgive? What donation do I need to make? How do we reach out to, listen, accompany, and bless? What action that lights the world, that broadens my generosity, will show you have “put on the armor of light” this season?
“You must also be prepared,” Jesus tells us today. May our first candle of Advent remind us to prepare our souls, home, and community to celebrate God’s promise to be with us always. Amen.
Source of reflection: © 2022, Sister Teresa Maya, CCVI, on “Catholic Women Preach” [shortened], https://www.catholicwomenpreach.org/preaching/11272022 Source of image: Lauren Plummer, “Advent Candle”. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=57132 [retrieved November 26, 2022]. Original source: Lauren Plummer, https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauren-plummer-mts-ma-006738129/.
- 4 December - Children are invited to join Children’s Church during Mass - we start and end together with the whole congregation. After Mass, all are welcome for our monthly Social Gathering, an opportunity to socialize with your faith community. Kindly consider bringing snacks or a dish to share with everyone or participating in setting up (from 12:30) and cleaning up after the social.