Year C, 1st Sunday of Advent – 2 December

A new liturgical year, and a different record of the Good News – this is important because each one of us is different – different from one another, and different from last year. We have had new experiences, and there has been different growth – all because of different successes, challenges, and failures. I am not the same as I was three years ago. If you think this is not the case then there is something wrong.

There is, however, a common denominator … we have all failed in one way or another, and Luke’s version of the Gospel tells us that those in need are sinners. Welcome to the Club! We need Luke’s account because it tells us two basics which should be remembered all through the next weeks and months. ONE: the Jesus of Luke speaks to us about the GRACIOUSNESS of God. TWO: Luke portrays the HOSPITALITY of God.

Luke alone records the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son. In addition, the account of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus only appears in Luke’s record. Remember all three all through the Cycle C … and see the Lord’s graciousness and hospitality.

It follows, therefore, that Luke’s version of the Gospel will challenge our graciousness and hospitality – not only to victims, returning sinners, and the disheartened doubtful (as emphasised in the two parables and Emmaus incident referred to), but the graciousness and hospitality we offer God-in-Christ. How do we make time for the Lord, give of ourselves to him? And how do we receive his ‘movements’ toward us? As far as the latter are concerned, we could profitably ask ourselves whether we are enthusiastic or reluctant?

The Advent Season is very much a time of preparation to receive the Lord’s visitation with graciousness and generous hospitality. At this time we all seem to make a special effort with regard to people. Do we, however, make as much – or even more – effort with God-in-Christ?

Each of our four Scripture extracts for this first Advent Sunday provide clear indications of the Lord’s graciousness to us, together with his availability (hospitality). The four extracts are presented to us in:

JEREMIAH 33: 14 – 16

PSALM 25 (or 24)

1 THESSALONIANS 3: 12 – 4:2

LUKE 21:25 – 28.34 – 36

Jeremiah reminds us that God made something (his promise) happen, and this should make us to secure. This happened at a specific time – “in those days and at that time.” Advent reminds us that the promise has been fulfilled. We are not still waiting. It has happened. We need to prepare for the reality of Christmas – it is not a matter of hope. Jesus Christ was born in time and history. THIS IS THE FACT. The Father’s plan and purpose centres on the reality of the PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST!

Do not overlook the Lord’s graciousness as expressed in the Psalm – he guides, teaches, is merciful and faithful … he is the God of our salvation.
This is why we call Jesus Christ SAVIOUR!

Then, Paul reminds us that we must be established “before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus.” If necessary, we have to hone our abilities to “walk and to please God.” A host is excited (perhaps a little apprehensive) at the prospect of guests arriving. However, guests also make a special effort. The Lord has gone to a great deal of trouble to prepare something for us. We have been invited. How are we going to respond when we arrive?

Saint Paul tells us we need to “do more and more.” So, we have ‘done’ Advent before!? No need to be careless and casual about it this time.

The Gospel extract finds Jesus telling us to “take heed to yourselves.” In the coming weeks we will, and rightly so, spend a good deal of time and effort in concern and outreach to others. We must, however, not overlook or ignore our own needs. We must not bluff ourselves or pretend that we do not have them.

We have to appear (advent) ourselves. There is a ‘secret’ (see the Psalm) we ourselves have to discover. We need to know the Lord’s ways – his way to Bethlehem, and our own.