First Sunday of Advent
November 29, 2020
Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.
— Mark 13:33 —
With Advent we begin a new church year as we renew our preparations for the coming of Christ. The scriptures show a profound movement from despair in the first reading, as we feel the wrath of God’s anger and a sense of being abandoned, to the responsorial psalm, which begs us to turn toward God, and the second reading where we see a glimmer of hope. Brimstone returns in the Gospel. This sense of unease and pain is much like what we have endured throughout 2020 with COVID-19, racial struggles, and political campaigns. Frankly, everyone is ready for a restart, for a do-over, for a better year. We can understand the heartfelt prayer of the prophet Isaiah: “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down.” Hide not your face from us, O God, but during these days of Advent may you reveal yourself to each of us once again.
BE WATCHFUL! BE ALERT!
When Jesus does not speak in eloquent sentences, but barks out imperative statements such as in our Gospel reading today, one can understand the urgency. There is no place for flowery language. “Be watchful! Be alert!” One has a sense that these should be written in bold or all caps! He tells the parable of the homeowner leaving his workers at home, with no knowledge of when he would return. Without phones and texts and travel schedules it could have meant the homeowner was returning sometime in the day, or sometime in the coming month or year. So Jesus is not telling us, “You have to behave for a little bit,” but rather, “You must live your life and work like the homeowner is always here. You must always be prepared.”
This author was very aware of the language of “master/servant” in the Gospel today and is reading it and praying it in light of discussions on racism in recent months. Perhaps this goes with the last imperative at the end of the parable to “Watch!” This year has taught us to be alert in our actions such as social distancing, masks, and sanitizing, as well as in our language and even our thoughts. Now how do we apply that to our spirituality, to our faith? For many, due to restrictions on numbers in church, singing, and choirs, this has meant learning to pray in a whole different way. The celebration of liturgy is the same as ever, with its focus always on the Word and the Eucharist, but for those in the pew, or still watching on livestream, the sense of active participation has taken on a very different meaning from how most of us have experienced liturgy in our lifetime. It feels like we have become spectators rather than participants. Perhaps this challenge can move us from complacency in our faith, to rediscover and relate to God in new ways, and call us to be even stronger in our personal faith. We must remain diligent. We must “watch.” We must hope. We must love. We must pray.
Today’s Readings: Is 63:16b–17, 19b, 64:2–7; Ps 80:2–3, 15–16, 18–19; 1 Cor 1:3–9; Mk 13:33–37
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Prayer of the Faithful
First Sunday of Advent
We are the work of God's hands, and so we now call upon the name of our Lord, who gives new life to all.
For our Church, led by Pope Francis, as we watch and wait for the Lord anew this Advent season, let us pray to the Lord.
For peace within and among all nations, especially in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Syria, let us pray to the Lord.
For those who continue to live in hunger this week after Thanksgiving, especially young families and children, let us pray to the Lord.
For successful research in the development of treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, and for considerate patience and cooperation with sensible restrictions in the meantime, let us pray to the Lord.
For our own community of faith, as we prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord by learning and doing God's work among ourselves and in the world beyond our doors, let us pray to the Lord.
For all those who are sick, for all who suffer from COVID-19, and for all who have died, especially N., N., and N., let us pray to the Lord.
For all the prayers that we hold in the silence of our hearts; for all our intentions spoken and unspoken, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, make us turn to you with all our hearts.
Hear these our prayers,
let us see your face, and we shall be saved.
We make this prayer in the name of Jesus our Lord,
whose coming we long for and whose day we await.
Copyright © J. S. Paluch Co., Inc.
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First Reading — We are the clay and you, O Lord, are the potter: we are the work of your hands
(Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7).
Psalm — Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved (Psalm 80).
Second Reading — God is faithful; by God you were called to fellowship with the Son (1 Corinthians 1:3-9).
Gospel — Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. (Mark 13:33-37).
The English translation of the Psalm Responses from Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.
Reading for the week
Monday: Rom 10:9-18; Ps 19:8-11; Mt 4:18-22
Tuesday: Is 11:1-10; Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17;
Wednesday: Is 25:6-10a; Ps 23:1-6; Mt 15:29-37
Thursday: Is 26:1-6; Ps 118:1, 8-9, 19-21, 25-27a;
Mt 7:21, 24-27
Friday: Is 29:17-24; Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14; Mt 9:27-31
Saturday: Is 30:19-21, 23-26; Ps 147:1-6;
Mt 9:35 — 10:1, 5a, 6-8
Sunday: Is 40:1-5, 9-11; Ps 85:9-14; 2 Pt 3:8-14;
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Feast of Faith
What Is the Mass?
What is the Mass? There is no simple answer to that question. The Church uses many different images and terms to describe our most important prayer. The Mass is the celebration of the Eucharist, a Greek word that means “thanksgiving.” It is the Lord’s Supper. It is the Breaking of the Bread. It is the memorial of the Lord’s passion, death, and resurrection. It is the Holy Sacrifice, in which the sacrifice of Christ on the cross is perpetuated. It is the holy and divine liturgy, the sacred mysteries. It is the source and summit of our Christian lives, the new covenant, the work of the Holy Spirit, the paschal mystery. The many different words and images that we use when we speak of the Mass are not signs of confusion, but of wonder at what the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1328) calls the “inexhaustible richness” of the Eucharist. The Mass, our greatest prayer and our deepest mystery, is celebrated every day, many times a day, the world over. The Eucharist is both “bread from heaven” and “daily bread.” The Mass is our everyday miracle.—Corinna Laughlin Copyright © J. S. Paluch Co.
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