With the arrival of the First Sunday of Advent we begin our journey through this special season of preparation before Christmas and the first Sunday of the church’s liturgical New Year. At mass today, we light the first purple candle on our Advent wreath to symbolise that our journey has begun in earnest.
For many weeks already, the commercial world has been bombarding us with advertisements on television, radio and in print media trying to convince us that we need to buy their products in order to be prepared for their idea of the true celebration of Christmas.
But rather than get caught up on the commercial world’s notion of what’s needed for us to have a ‘Happy Christmas’ we need to focus on what Advent actually means to us as Christians and then use these days to take stock and reflect on our lives and maybe the direction we are going. Perhaps to ask the question ‘what do I really need to have a happy Christmas’? Is it the number of gifts I will give or receive or is it more importantly about family coming together to celebrate the Holy feast of the Nativity of The Lord?
Advent challenges us to waken up and shake off the routineness of our usual daily living and let Christ come alive in our lives once more.
Archbishop Dermot Farrell has written a Pastoral Letter for Advent 2022 entitled “The Time Has Come”. The letter will be read at all Masses this weekend, and you can download a copy at the link below.The Time Has Come Advent 2022
Thinking of the end of time and what it could mean for each of us is not something that’s discussed very often these days. What will happen to us? How can we best prepare for that time or moment in our lives?
Today our Gospel seeks to direct our thoughts on the subject by drawing our attention to the last moments of Christ’s earthly life. We hear how he is condemned to death on the cross for claiming to be a King. Ironically the only crown he wore was the one made for him out of some thorny branches. They had written and placed the sign ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews’ over his head. While the Kings of this earth might rule from a palace, here, in complete contrast, we have Christ the King reigning from the cross. His invitation was simply that people would give their hearts and minds and follow him freely, living their lives according to his word.
In our busy lives and world, we can easily lose sight of the truth that Heaven is our final destination. Today’s Feast is that gentle reminder or invitation to start living our lives the way Jesus taught us to live them and bring about a change of heart. His own lifestyle of service to others and respect for all should be the only inspiration we need to work hard to create a world of justice, love, compassion and peace for all in society.
Each of us is invited to make him King of our hearts and our lives in all matters.
As we near the end of the Church’s liturgical year, today’s readings focus on the final days of the world, our own death and the final judgement.
The prophet Malachi in our first reading warns of the need to be prepared for the day of the second coming. He adds the reassurance that those who remain faithful in word and work will be rewarded.
The gospel warns that the date of the end of the world is uncertain. The disciples are worried by this revelation and they immediately seek more information from Jesus. They ask what warning signs they should look out for. He speaks of nations fighting against each other and that there will be great plagues and famines. Jesus warns against listening to those who predict the end of time, they should ignore them. That time is known to God alone.
Faithfulness is key for all followers and that may come with a price. Jesus puts forward some examples that the faithful may have to endure. That is true for all of us even today. We often must stand up for what we believe as Christians, in an increasingly hostile secular world, but God promises us the wisdom and the gift of speech to defend ourselves. Our perseverance will be rewarded in the end.
Our state of readiness depends on what sort of lifestyle each one of us leads. The challenge for us all is to live holy lives, with love, compassion and unconditional forgiveness as our guiding principle to be prepared for that time when God may call each one of us home.
World Youth Day will take place in Lisbon, Portugal, from 1st to 6th August 2023. As ever, the Archdiocese of Dublin intend bringing a large group of young people to attend. Package options and costs are still being determined and the registration system will open shortly. If you are aged between 18 and 29 and would like to register your interest, please contact Kirsten our Faith Development Worker at email@example.com