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First Sunday of Advent C: November 28, 2021

Luke 21:25-28, 34-36

By Rev. John Tran

The first two readings this first Sunday of Advent are full of hope. In the first reading, Jeremiah holds out to us a picture of the best life that the people of Israel could hope for: the rule of a just king from the line of David would appear and would rule justly and bring security and peace to the land. He would be called: “The Lord Our Justice.” The second reading holds out to Christians of all time a perfect way of living out the way of Jesus Christ, who is that just king Jeremiah foretold. Christians are to “abound in love for one another and for all.” This will bring about that perfect world which is the Kingdom of the Father is actually lived and promoted. Then we hear today's gospel which rings with a jarring note: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay...”

But this Gospel warning is not disconnected from the positive message of the first two readings. Jeremiah is writing at a very difficult time in Jewish history. Jerusalem had been destroyed and most of the people exiled to foreign lands. He is giving hope and promise to a demoralized people, a hope that was realized in the eventual redounding of Jerusalem, a return to the land of many of its people and the eventual rebuilding of an even greater temple.

The second reading from St. Paul, offers a pattern for Christian life that makes Jesus Christ present in us as Christians, and in our world through us. If we “abound in love for one another and for all,” the Father's Kingdom becomes real and present, and we are, then, the very Body of Christ in a visible way, that is present in each Eucharist.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus prophesies the signs and portents that will accompany his Second Comingand encourages us to be expectant, optimistic, vigilant, and well-prepared: “When these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand”. Jesus wants us to face the future with confidence in God’s faithfulness to us and love for us. We do so through living his life of care for our fellow Christians, as well as the stranger who God sends us.

Edward Hays, in A Pilgrim’s Almanac, wrote a very fitting meditation for us to consider as we begin Advent: “Advent is the perfect time to clear and prepare the Way. By reflection and prayer, by reading and meditation, we can make our hearts a place where a blessing of peace would desire to abide and where the birth of the Prince of Peace might take place. Daily we can make an Advent examination. Do we have any feelings of discrimination toward [people because of] race, sex, or religion? Is there a lingering resentment, an unforgiven injury living in our hearts? Do we look down upon others of lesser social standing or educational achievement? Are we generous with the gifts that have been given to us, seeing ourselves as their stewards and not their owners? Are we reverent of others, of their ideas and needs, and of creation? These and other questions become Advent lights by which we may search the deep, dark corners of our hearts. May this Advent season be a time for bringing hope, transformation, and fulfillment into the Advent of our lives.”

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