“Is longing not a voice? It is indeed, and a very powerful one” (Song of Songs, #74, p.87). With these words from St. Bernard, we enter Advent, a time when the veil covering our longing falls away, and we hold this longing as something precious, so precious that we do not want to lose it. With longing silently pulsating, we wait…we wait, awake and attentive to the movements of the heart. Advent invites us into the silence where longing becomes a voice, a voice that calls upon the Word of God to return: ‘Return, return’, she cries out, ‘be born again in our lives’. The powerful voice of longing…silently speaking, asking only our attentiveness, our presence, our hope and faith.
‘Be patient’, ‘Make your hearts firm’, ‘Do not complain about one another, so that you may not be judged’…. ‘the prophets knew of hardship and patience’…These are exhortative words from the epistle for this Third Sunday of Advent…And added to them is the theme of ‘oice’ for the coming One is even closer now, our expectant hearts begin to feel the reality of God’s promise stirring in the silent depths within and without in the created world.
At monasteries, the week before Christmas is marked by the singing of the O Antiphons at Vespers. This tradition goes back to at least the 9th century. By the twelfth century, the O Antiphons appeared in the popular Christmas hymn we know today as O Come, O Come Emmanuel.
Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
FOR YOU DO NOT KNOW THE DAY ON WHICH YOUR LORD WILL COME.
Readings of the Day
RB: Ch 50 Those Working at a Distance or Traveling
Mass: Is 2:1-5; Resp Ps 122; Rm 13:11-14; Mt 24:37-44
Welcome to the First Sunday of Advent and the beginning of a new year on the Church calendar. Happy New Year!
As is customary from last year, we begin with looking at the Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year to provide the context from which we reflect on the readings at Mass and our day to day living. This is what we find in paragraph 39:
Advent has a twofold character, for it is a time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas, in which the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity is remembered, and likewise a time when, by remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ's Second Coming at the end of time. For these two reasons, Advent is a period of devout and expectant delight.
Vigilant and ready…to receive. God comes: “God is underway toward us” (Hans Urs von Balthasar, Light of the Word, p.13). Images, words straining to open our hearts to receive what awaits us during this Advent-Christmas season.
“We wait for the fullness. We watch for the completion of the promise. We vigil for the coming of the unimaginable fruition of the seed growing from the beginning in the heart of God” (p.16). With these stirring words of Wendy Wright from her book, The Vigil, we are given a window into the Advent-Christmas season.
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