December 2, 2018 – First Sunday of Advent C
So where is the Advent Wreath this year? I don’t see it in church! That’s where it’s always been! What’s going on? In an attempt to prepare you in advance, I explained the placement of the Advent Wreath in my November 17th bulletin article. The directives for the placement of the Advent Wreath state: “The Advent Wreath, a popular symbol in many churches, may be placed in the narthex or gathering area, or near the ambo.” And that “other creative uses are encouraged.” This year we are going to display the nativity scene at the baptismal font. Sources for liturgical art & environment suggest that the Advent Wreath be placed near where the nativity scene will be placed. Thus, that is why the Advent Wreath this year is in the narthex at the baptismal font.
The gospel today for the First Sunday of Advent certainly turns our thoughts to the end times, which seems a little strange in Advent. But the Advent season does have a two-fold character. 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. This is the focus that most of us put a lot of time and energy, often to the point of exhaustion, into preparing and celebrating. The decorations, the gifts, the parties, the family gatherings, the traditions. But, the other character of Advent is to lead our hearts and minds to look forward to Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time. I dare say, that most of us don’t give much thought to the end times and Jesus’ second return during Advent. We prefer to remember the baby in the manger, not the man on the cross! But it was the man on the cross that gives meaning to the powerful signs we hear about in the gospel. These powerful signs are not mean to frighten us, but to remind us that what we hope for is yet to come. The Gospel makes clear that the foundation of our hope is not what has happened to us in the past, but what God intends to do for us in the future. Today’s gospel shows great turmoil on the earth and distress among the nations, but its message is that underneath that turmoil, God is working to change things. God is working to establish the Kingdom. It is God’s action which is the foundation of our hope. That is why Jesus says that we should stand up and raise our heads because our redemption is at hand. We can always stand in hope because we believe that God is always working to change things and to bring about salvation. So, the Advent season calls us not to just remember sentimentally a historical event of the past, but to live in expectant hope of what is yet to come! No need to die of fright as the gospel says some will. Instead, stand erect and rise your heads because your redemption is at hand!” What a Christmas gift!!
Saturday, December 8th is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation. Masses for the Immaculate Conception are on Friday, December 7th at 7:00pm and on Saturday morning, December 8th at 9:00am. The 4:00pm Mass on Saturday, December 8th does not count for the Immaculate Conception, as the 4:00pm Mass will be the vigil Mass for the Second Sunday of Advent.