Sunday 27th November
Scripture: Romans 13: 11-14
St. Paul could very well be speaking to us; Christians of the 21st Century, as we begin the Advent Season. This is the time to ‘wake up’ because the Lord’s coming is very near to us. It is not my intention to be a prophet of doom.
I am not speaking about the end of the world. What I am referring to is the coming of Jesus in the great feast of his nativity, which we call ‘Christmas.’
Each Christmas is a celebration of the Saviour who comes to be born anew in our world, our hearts, and our lives, so that we can be renewed and rejuvenated in faith.
He comes to us to be with us through all life’s challenges, storms and disappointments. He comes to be our Emmanuel – God is with us.
On this first day of Advent, we can choose to remain in the dark – with the attitude and behaviour of our past sins and failings, or we can choose to emerge into the light, and to wake up from the things past and make a fresh start, a new beginning. For this reason Advent begins the Church’s new Liturgical Year.
The sober reality is that each year that we live brings us closer to the end of our lives here on earth – whenever that may be. “Our salvation is even nearer than it was when we were converted” St. Paul reminds us.
Advent us a wakeup call for all of us, a time to revaluate our priorities and to shift our focus from the passing things of this world, to living the values of the Gospel. It is a difficult challenge and task because all around us is the Festive Season, a time of excessive eating, drinking, and shopping.
Do we dare to be different?
Can we resist this time of excess to be more focused on our spirituality?
Jesus gives us the courage, strength, and capacity to stand firm in faith. Our encounter with him in the Holy Eucharist strengthens us to do what we cannot accomplish on our own.
His presence in the womb of Mary strengthened her in her time of expectation. His presence in our hearts will strengthen us as we wait in hope.
Make a commitment today to go to Mass and receive the Eucharist more than just on a Sunday. Look at the weekday Mass schedule and choose the Mass or Masses you can attend. The Gospel of Matthew, which we use during this Year A, has 28 chapters.
Read a chapter per day and by Christmas you will have read the entire Gospel.
Prayer: Father, guide my Advent journey which I begin today. Be with me as I prepare for the coming of Jesus this Christmas. May I be like Mary, truly Expectant in Hope. Amen.
Monday 28 November
Scripture: Isaiah 2: 1-5
In his vision, Isaiah imagines the Temple of the Lord towering over the mountains and lifted higher than the hills. For the Jews, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, on which the Great Temple stood during the time of Jesus, was their most sacred place. Everybody made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to visit the Temple. We know that Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple and that he was there as a boy, on the brink of manhood. We also know that Jesus visited and taught in the Temple during his ministry.
The Temple was destroyed in 70AD, never to be rebuilt.
Today, its place stands the Dome on the Rock, a Muslim place of worship.
Isaiah’s vision, however, is more than that of a physical temple and the geographical Judah and Jerusalem. Isaiah’s vision of the Temple of the Lord is Jesus, and Jerusalem as the Kingdom of God – the New Jerusalem.
This is reflected so beautifully and powerfully in the hymn ‘The Holy City.’ I hope that you will take a moment to listen to it via the link at the end of this reflection.
Like Isaiah, we are invited to have a vision of a world where the voice, teaching, and presence of Jesus towers over all earthly hills and mountains,
a voice that speaks of peace, kindness, compassion, gentleness, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness.
Imagine a world without war and conflict, jealousy and hatred, racial and gender discrimination, hunger, and poverty, and all that troubles our broken world. In the movie ‘The Man from La Mancha’ there is a powerful song called ‘The Impossible Dream.’ (Here is a version by Josh Groban: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BM9E1hEVrg ).
Do we dare this Advent to be like Isaiah, to dream the dream of how our world can be if everyone embraced Jesus and his teachings?
For this reason, this first week of Advent is the week of Hope. We dare to hope, and we commit ourselves to allow God to use us, as he used Mary, to bring the Saviour into the world. Imagine what would happen if every Christian, as a bearer of Jesus, made him known, brought him forth into our world this Christmas! This is the reason for our Hope.
Pray the first decade of the Joyful Mysteries: The Annunciation of Our Lord. Ask God to use you, as he did Mary, to make Jesus known in our world this Christmas.
Prayer: May your love be upon us O Lord, as we place all our hope in you. Amen Listen to the Holy City: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BM9E1hEVrg
Tuesday 29 November
Scripture: Luke 21: 21-24
“Happy the eyes that see as you see, the ears that hear as you hear”
The Gospels set out to prove that Jesus is the fulfilment of every prophecy that had ever been made about the Messiah.
Those prophecies were meant to give the people hope – hope that one day they would again be ‘liberated’, and that their covenant promises would be fulfilled.
Jesus tells His apostles that that moment has come – that they are ‘seeing’ and ‘hearing’ everything the prophets spoke of – that He is the ‘dream’ come true!
He speaks of the unique relationship He has with God, and that if they want to know God, then all they have to do is ‘look’ at Him, ‘listen’ to Him.
One of the things Jesus appreciated was the simplicity of children – their ability to trust – their ability to see and appreciate beauty around them; their dependence on those who love them.
It is those childlike qualities we need to renew if we are to recognize Jesus today. We need ‘eyes that can see’ – see Him in those around us; see Him in creation.
We need ‘ears that can hear Him’ – hear Him in the cries of the vulnerable and poor; hear Him in those being exploited by society.
Advent offers us the opportunity to renew our ‘sight’ and ‘hearing’.
Do we want to?
He is our ‘hope’ for the future – our hope of eternal life with Him one day.
Spend some time today reflecting on ‘what you see and hear’.
Do you recognize the Lord in those around you? Do you hear Him in others?
Lord Jesus, give me ‘eyes to see’ and ‘ears to hear’ that I may recognize You for who You are – the Son of the Living God, and my Lord and Saviour.
Wednesday 30 November
Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle
Scripture: Matthew 4: 18-22
Fishermen: hardy, adventurous, risk takers, courageous. observant, respected, understanders of the power of God through wind and storm, determined, not shy from work, not scared of the dark. Every time they go out to sea, they anticipate a catch. Always patient and always full of hope.
Is it any wonder that Jesus saw in these four men people who would fit in well with His mission? Of the four, Peter, James and John became His inner circle. Today we celebrate the feast of St. Andrew. The apostles were all simple Galilean men who would never demand that people meet certain criteria in order for God to receive them. This is far removed from the onerous and opposing attitude of the Jewish priests and elders in Jerusalem.
Jesus says, “Follow ME.” Not follow my rules and regulations, but rather form a personal relationship with me and all the rest will fall into place. In responding to this call, they left their families and their daily routine. Peter travelled with his wife but made Our Lord a priority, as did the others, over family and friends.
As disciples we are called to this same discipline of priority.
Catholics are called to be fishers of men and women for the Saviour, yet we fail dismally. We fail because we don’t appreciate that we have a personal encounter with Jesus in Sacraments which nourish our relationship with Jesus and offer us a way of constantly renewing our encounter with Jesus each time we fail. Many Christians, as we know, do have the wonder of the Sacraments.
Do you believe that you have a responsibility to encourage and allow others to form a relationship with Jesus. In reflecting on this, consider your actions more than your thoughts and do what we can and must do, albeit in little ways, on a daily basis.
Holy Spirit of God, we give thanks for the willingness of these first disciples to embrace Jesus the Son through their perfect obedience to the will of the Father. Strengthen us to be like them and to be worth disciples.
Thursday 1 December
Scripture: Matthew 7: 21, 24-27
“Expectant in Hope” – our Advent theme this week. What do you understand by “HOPE”?
The conventional understanding of HOPE is to want something to happen or to be true. It is a dream or a wish. The HOPE of Faith is different. It is not a wish but rather an affirmation that comes through Faith.
Through Faith, and “doing the will of my Father in Heaven” (Mt 7:21) we have the Hope of our entry into the Kingdom of God.
Today’s Gospel establishes this clear requirement for our HOPE of Eternal Life.
Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical Spe Salvi, tells us: “In Hope we are Saved” that Faith is Hope. Through Faith we have the Hope of Eternal Life. He tells us that our encounter with God who, in Jesus, has shown us His Love and opened His heart to us, is not simply “informative” but also “performative”. This coming to know God can, and should, change our lives. We are redeemed by the unconditional Love of God which we are to give to others. This is the condition for entry into the Kingdom of God expressed in Matthew’s Gospel.
“It is not those who say to me ‘Lord, Lord’ who will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Mt 7:21)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines HOPE as follows: “Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.” “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”
“The Holy Spirit . . . he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.” (ccc 1817). “The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man.” (ccc 1818)
“We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will.” (ccc 1821)
This Advent, choose to bring the unconditional Love of God to others, especially those less fortunate than yourself. We need non-perishable foods and monetary donations for our Christmas Hampers. Drop off items in the Parish Office labelled ‘Helping Hands’.
Lord Jesus Christ, You were sent to this world to make us turn back to love, serve and praise You. Help us to always use the wealth, power, and influence that we have to serve others and make sure they come back to You.
Give us the strength to overcome the evil pressures of this world that may again turn us away from You. AMEN.
Friday 2 December
Scripture: Isaiah 29: 17-24 Matthew 9: 27-31
“Then he touched their eyes saying, ‘Your faith deserves it, so let this be done for you.’ And their sight returned.”
On this the first Friday of Advent 2022, our liturgy is about seeing. Isaiah gives a promise of a bright future: “The deaf, that day, will hear the words of a book and, after shadow and darkness, the eyes of the blind will see.” He presents to the people the plan of God, a plan of redemption. The blind will be able to see the redemption of God and the deaf will hear the words proclaimed to them. Even the lowly will rejoice in the Lord and the poorest exult in the Lord.
In the Gospel, two blind men followed Jesus shouting, “Take pity on us, Son of David.” They were asking Jesus to have mercy and compassion towards them. They invited Jesus to share their pain and misfortune. They wanted Jesus to be one with them. Before Jesus could answer their prayer, he put them to the test.
He asked, “Do you believe I can do this?’ He tested them not to ridicule them but to strengthen their faith and trust in God. He then touched their eyes and their sight returned. The prophecy made in Isaiah is fulfilled through Jesus Christ who is the fullness of God’s mercy and compassion. Jesus came to give sight to the blind, open the ears of the deaf and to proclaim the Good News.
On Sunday we lit the candle of Hope to remind ourselves that as we wait patiently for the coming of Jesus Christ, we do so in Hope. We hold on to the promises made to us that when Jesus comes, he will renew the face of the earth.
Our hope in Jesus will not let us down. He will show compassion to the broken hearted, he will heal the sick, the lowly will rejoice in him, and he will give us peace. Our eyes will be open to the salvation of our God.
In the meantime, he is asking us, “Do you believe I can do this for you?”
Do you believe in the power of Jesus?
Are there any blind spots in your life that keep you from recognising God’s power and mercy? What is preventing you from experiencing the mercy and compassion of God? What spiritual exercises do you have in place to make this Advent a time of encounter with Jesus?
Lord Jesus, deepen my faith in you always so as to receive healing from you.
Help me to draw near to you with faith and trust in your saving power and mercy. Free me from doubt and unbelief that I may approach you confidently and pray boldly with Expectant Hope. Amen.
Saturday 03 December
Scripture: Matthew 9: 35–10: 1, 6-8
There are many commentaries on the mission of Jesus and sadly the central focus of the majority of them seem to be that Jesus’ mission was to die for our sins. Today’s scripture, however, makes it clear that Jesus came not just to suffer because of our sins, but to bring relief from suffering to a world gripped in the throes of hopelessness.
Jesus came to proclaim the Good News that people could be set free from their afflictions, and he came to teach about a different way of living… a way contrary to the way of this world. He came to show us that in despite all that was wrong in the world, His way would reveal that there is a better way, not necessarily an easier way, but a more fulfilling way, to live our lives.
If God is love and Jesus came to teach us about the Kingdom of God, it goes without saying that His is a Kingdom of Love. If everyone who heard His message had taken it to heart, no one would have ever considered crucifying Jesus because every choice and decision they made would have been out of love, and there would have been no cause for violence and suffering.
When we turn on the TV we are met with images of war, economic collapse, political high-jinks, and social depravation at every turn. It is easy to feel a sense of hopelessness that things will just continue to get worse and worse. But that is not the case; Jesus has called us to be the labourers in His field. He asks us to bring hope to those who feel lost and alone, He has asks us to live the good news of the Kingdom of Love. He encourages us to hope for a better world.
We have been told to take His message out into the world and to share the reality that hope is alive and well. We can start with our immediate family and friends. We are called to cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leper, and cast out demons but that seems like an impossible feat. Not so! We can offer healing to the broken-hearted. We can raise the thoughts of the downcast. We can cleanse our relationships with others by forgiving their wrongdoing, and we can cast out the demons of negativity amongst those we encounter.
We can bring hope to a world so desperate for Jesus and His Kingdom of Love.
In a world in which we have become increasingly insular, there are so many lonely people who would welcome a visit or just a phone call to let them know that someone is thinking of them. It doesn’t take much.
Father, thank you for the hope we have in Jesus. Help me to live as a person of hope and to find practical ways to bring that hope to others during this season when things are difficult for many people. Amen.
These Daily Reflections for Advent 2022 are written by Fr. Desmond Nair, Irene Helsdon, George Cominos Mike Montocchio, Fr. Wandile Cagwe, and Veronica Donnelly. Please acknowledge the authors when copying and distributing. We wish you blessed Advent.