First Sunday of Advent
Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
1st Reading: Jeremiah 33:14-16
Responsorial: Psalm 25:4-5, 8-10, 141
2nd Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:12–4:2
Gospel: Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
Advent, A Time to Prepare for His Coming
Be vigilant at all times.… Your redemption is at hand. (Luke 21:36, 28)
So begins another Advent—with words of warning to stay alert, but also with words of confident reassurance. Isn’t it funny how we are so quick to focus on the verses that sound threatening but lose sight of the ones that remind us how faithful God is and how deeply committed he is to us?
Do you believe that right now, God wants nothing but good things for you? After all, he has been pouring out grace on his people for millennia. From the very beginning, he has been leading us to the day of our “redemption,” so why would he stop now (Luke 21:28)?
In today’s first reading, we see St. Paul praying that the people of Thessalonika will deepen in their love for each other as they wait for the Lord’s return (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13). Paul didn’t say this because he thought that the Thessalonians were doing poorly. Quite the opposite—he begins his letter by praising them for their “work of faith and labor of love” (1:3). Paul wasn’t correcting them or admonishing them; he was congratulating them and urging them to keep up the good work!
The same is true for you. God isn’t upset that your faith in him or your love for other people isn’t greater than it is. He knows your heart; he knows how much you want to please him. He delights in the faith and love that you do have—incomplete though it may be. Now he is urging you to take another step so that you can be even more faith filled and loving.
We are entering Advent, a season of grace when God invites us to journey deeper into his love and his presence. Over the next four weeks, you’ll find numerous opportunities to connect with the Lord, whether it is at Mass, in prayer, or in your encounters with other people. Make the most of them. Trust that each situation is another opportunity for your redemption to unfold even more.
“Lord, draw me closer to you this Advent!”
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Questions for Reflection or Discussion
- The first reading opens with these words of great promise and warning: “The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah.” How would you describe the fulfillment of that promise? As you prepare your heart to celebrate the coming of the Lord at Christmas this year, what additional steps can you take to commit your life to Him in a deeper way?
- In the Responsorial Psalm, we ask God to “make known” to us his “ways,” to “teach” us his “paths”, and to “guide” us in his “truth” (Psalm 25:4-5). In what ways does God teach and reveal his intentions to you? What can you do each day, especially during Advent, to be more attentive to his promptings?
- In the second reading, St. Paul exhorts his brothers and sisters in Thessalonica to “increase and abound in love for one another and for all.” He goes on to say that loving one another is the key to “being blameless in holiness” at the “coming of our Lord Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13). Why is there such a strong relationship between love and being ready to receive Christ at his “coming”? What are some practical steps you can take to demonstrate more deeply Christ’s love, and your love, to your family and to others? In what way will this love in action help them to be more ready to receive Christ?
- The Gospel reading focuses on the difficult signs that will occur prior to Jesus’ Second Coming, rather than on his First Coming at Christmas? Why do you think that is so? How would you describe the similarities and differences between his First and Second Coming?
- In the Gospel, with regard to the signs that will arise during the end times and the final return of Christ, we are cautioned to be “vigilant,” so that day doesn’t catch us “by surprise like a trap” (Luke 21:34). What does being vigilant mean to you? There are many things that can keep us from being vigilant, e.g., sin, temptations, distractions of the world, and fear and anxiety. What are some things you can do to overcome and root out any of the obstacles that can cause you not to be vigilant?
- The meditation ends with these words: “We are entering Advent, a season of grace when God invites us to journey deeper into his love and his presence. Over the next four weeks, you’ll find numerous opportunities to connect with the Lord, whether it is at Mass, in prayer, or in your encounters with other people. Make the most of them. Trust that each situation is another opportunity for your redemption to unfold even more.” What additional steps can you take during this grace-filled season of Advent to deepen your relationship with the Lord through prayer, the sacraments, Scripture reading, and fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ?
- Take some time now to pray and ask the Lord to use this Advent Season to draw you closer to him and to prepare your heart to receive him more deeply this Christmas, and when he comes again in glory. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.