Reflections

1ST SUNDAY OF ADVENT, NOVEMBER 29, 2020

Watch! Be Attentive! The Lord Comes!
1. Lord, Let Us See Your Face
2. Have the Door Open When the Lord Comes
3. Hope in a Better World
 
Greeting
I welcome you with the greeting of St Paul: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. R/ And with your spirit.
 
Introduction
1. Let Us See Your Face
During this Advent we are confronted again with the question so vital for us Christians: what place are you giving Christ in your life? Are you close to him? One thing is sure: he is near to us. Do we try to see him, to recognize him in the many forms he is present among us: in our neighbour, in nature, in the events of life, even in our troubles and his own silence? We have to become vigilant to his presence, not only in our own little world but in the Church and in the wide world. Today we pray in the Eucharist: come, Lord, show yourself; be visible among us.
 
2. Have the Door Open When the Lord Comes
It is good to have something to wait for, to look forward to, to hope in. People who have no more expectations are pitiable, for their life must be drab and monotonous. Of course, waiting for something to happen, for someone who is delayed, can make us impatient at times, like the better world which we are promised but which takes very long in coming. The Lord here among us asks us: what have you done to hasten the coming of a new self and of a better world? Why have you not made me and my gospel known and why do you not make me visible in yourself? Here is our task for Advent: We have to bring the Lord and his kingdom near. May the Lord give us this strength.
 
3. Hope in a Better World
People often dream about a beautiful world without worries or pain. We know that our world will never be such a paradise. Imperfection is the mark of our world and of every human being. But Advent reminds us of this: let God come into our world and let him enter our lives; then everything will be better. And God came: he is here with us in Jesus. With him we can make this world not yet a paradise but at least much better if with him we learn to bear the pain of the evil in this world and fight it with all our might. Then it may become a sign of the paradise of heaven. Let Jesus fill us with that hope and strength.
 
Penitential Act
Do we look for the Lord? And when we find him, do we point him out to others? Let us examine ourselves before the Lord. (pause)
 
Lord Jesus, awaken your might and come to our help: Lord, have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy.
 
Jesus Christ, bring us back,
let your face shine on us and we shall be saved: Christ, have mercy. R/ Christ, have mercy.
 
Lord Jesus, we shall never forsake you again; give us life, that we may call upon your name. Lord, have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy.
 
Have mercy on us, Lord, and take away all our sins. Show yourself to us and lead us to everlasting life. R/ Amen.
 
Opening Prayer
Let us pray that we may be vigilant to see the coming of our Lord among us (pause)
 
Our saving God, long ago you sent your Son Jesus among us, but we have been little aware of his presence and we hide him even from others. Wake us up, make us recognize him, that he may be the light of our lives and that eagerly we may lead people to him. May he build up among us and with us a world and a kingdom of peace and love where we serve you in one another, as we move forward in hope to your home of endless joy and rest. We ask this through Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.
 
First Reading: Rend the Heavens and Come Down!
In the name of his discouraged and suffering people, the prophet voices his trust in God: they deserve their lot, but no situation is desperate when we can count on a saving God.
 
1 Reading: Isaiah 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7
You, LORD, are our father, our redeemer you are named forever. Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we fear you not? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage. Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, with the mountains quaking before you, while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for, such as they had not heard of from of old. No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you doing such deeds for those who wait for him. Would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in our ways! Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful; all of us have become like unclean people, all our good deeds are like polluted rags; we have all withered like leaves, and our guilt carries us away like the wind. There is none who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to cling to you; for you have hidden your face from us and have delivered us up to our guilt. Yet, O LORD, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands.
 
Responsorial Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
R. (4) Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
O shepherd of Israel, hearken, from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth. Rouse your power, and come to save us. R.
 
Once again, O LORD of hosts, look down from heaven, and see; take care of this vine, and protect what your right hand has planted the son of man whom you yourself made strong. R.
 
May your help be with the man of your right hand, with the son of man whom you yourself made strong. Then we will no more withdraw from you; give us new life, and we will call upon your name. R.
 
Second Reading: Waiting for the Full Coming of Christ
Paul sees the life of a Christian as someone already united with Christ and yet looking forward toward his fuller coming until the Lord’s final return.
 
2 Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Brothers and sisters: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
 
Alleluia Psalm 85:8
Alleluia, alleluia. Show us Lord, your love; and grant us your salvation. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
 
Gospel: Stay Awake for the Lord’s Coming
Christians should always be ready for the unexpected, for they may encounter the Lord at any time in people, in the events of life and at death. Are we awake and ready to respond?
 
Gospel: Mark 13:33-37
Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”
 
Commentary
Watch, for God is near
In the market that our world has become, there are many who offer salvation at a cheap price. Some offer us a salvation based on consumption. “Buy such a product,” “Use this or that,” and they tell us that this way we will be happier. Everything is within reach… as long as you have, of course, enough money in the bank or in your wallet. You just have to look at the advertisements around us everywhere: television, newspapers, radio, online, billboards… But that, we know, is not the true salvation.
Others tell us about God. “Give a donation,” “Pray this or that,” “Go on this pilgrimage or celebration.” Peter went and was cured of the cancer he had. Michael had no more problems with drinking. There is also the other side, that of the threat. Because we are also told that Joseph did not pray or did not go and all his problems got worse. That God they speak of is like the magic medicine so many dream of. One pill – one prayer – and… everything solved. Heaven is within our reach. Those who speak this way seem to be magicians who control God with their strength and make him work in their service. But salvation is not there either.
The reality is much more complicated. God is not a magician who solves everything. Our world is making its own way. We find God at our side, encouraging us to take control of our lives, to be responsible for what we do, for our decisions. We find his presence in our daily lives, in the people we meet, in the events. There is much of God, of grace, in our lives.
With this Sunday we begin the season of Advent. It is a time of preparation for the celebration of the coming of the Lord. The Word of God invites us to be vigilant. We must be vigilant, because in our streets, in our families, in our world, a new, nascent presence is felt. Christian communities are already a sign of this new reality. There are many good people working to help others. Those are the signs of God’s presence. God is with us! His presence is growing! Advent is our opportunity to be vigilant and attentive, to discover the signs of God’s authentic presence and to celebrate them in our liturgy and in our prayer. Be vigilant, then, lest God be at your side or in your very lives and unnoticed to you.
Thus, being vigilant means being alive and attentive to the big and small things that happen around us. Do we care about all that happens, or do we live so locked into our problems that our world ends up on our own doorstep? Where and when do we discover God near us?
 
Intercessions
Let us pray to our Lord Jesus Christ that we may be alert to his presence and that his salvation may come to all of our world. Let us say:
R/ Lord, come and save us.
 
– Enrich your Church with much tenderness, Lord, that it may show the way to all who seek, welcome sinners with compassion, and be the refuge and defender of the poor, we pray:
R/ Lord, come and save us.
– Enrich the leaders of our world with your wisdom, Lord, that they may bring peace and justice to their own nations and on the international level, we pray:
R/ Lord, come and save us.
– Enrich with hope in you those who suffer, Lord, that they may see how much you love them and that they may also meet people who follow you in your understanding and compassion, we pray:
R/ Lord, come and save us.
– Enrich with your spirit of fidelity, Lord, husbands and wives who are getting estranged, priests and religious who have lost a sense of direction, friends frustrated in their trust and mutual support, we pray:
R/ Lord, come and save us.
– Enrich our communities with your love, Lord, that we may respect and appreciate one another, be united in all our diversity, and be attentive to each other’s needs, we pray:
R/ Lord, come and save us.
 
Lord, Jesus Christ, you are the one who is coming to renew us and our world. Be our joy, our peace, all our hope, now and for ever. R/ Amen.
 
Prayer over the Gifts (based on Pope Paul VI’s “80 Years Later”)
God our Father, we pray you at this altar for the coming of Jesus Christ in bread and wine. Inspire us by the power of his Spirit and sustain us in hope, that we may fully commit ourselves to build up among people a city that is human, peaceful, just and fraternal as an offering that pleases you, our God and Father for ever. R/ Amen.
 
Introduction to the Eucharistic Prayer
In the preface and the whole Eucharistic prayer we express our longing for the Lord’s coming among his people and in the world.
 
Introduction to the Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray to our faithful God in the words of Jesus his Son that his kingdom may come to all: R/ Our Father…
 
Deliver Us
Deliver us, Lord, from the evil of sin which keeps us from seeing that your Son already is among us. Help us discover his presence in our brothers and sisters. In these times of trials and uncertainty keep us watchful and reassure us that even in our obscure toils we are already preparing the new world of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. R/ For the kingdom…
 
Invitation to Communion
This is Jesus the Lord, he who was and is and will come, the hope and salvation of all. Happy are we to receive him as our God-with-us. R/ Lord, I am not worthy…
 
Prayer after Communion
God our Father, it was good to be here with your Son and to receive from him the bread of hope. Help us in our clumsy attempts to bring to our cold world the warmth of his love and friendship, of his compassion and his integrity, that people may see the day when they can recognize among us your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.
 
Blessing
Advent is our season of waiting for the coming of Jesus, our Lord. But long ago he came already. So, what are we waiting for, then? For his real coming to you, to me, to our world. Where is his kingdom among us? How can people see whether he is here? Can they see him in us, in our communities? This is what we are waiting for, or rather, what the Lord is waiting for. The Lord is waiting for our active preparing of his love and justice among people. But he will do it with us. Let the Lord come and activate us, with the blessing of almighty God, that Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. R/ Amen.
 
Let us go with one another the way of the Lord. R/ Thanks be to God.

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