Today, the First Sunday of Advent, we begin our yearly pilgrimage through the scenes and events of our history of salvation. This year we return to the A cycle readings, with the Gospel focus mostly on the Gospel of Matthew. The first Sunday of Advent, the ‘Sunday of Hope’ in God and His Son, Jesus Christ, through whom God has promised to save and redeem His people.
The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent. Their light represents Christ himself, who is the light of the world. We light the candles gradually throughout Advent because we know that the joy of salvation doesn't come fully into our lives all at once. Our life is a journey, a relationship with Jesus that has to be constantly renewed, just as a new candle is lit each week.
In the first reading eschatological vision Isaiah reports the pilgrimage of nations to Mount Zion as described also by Micah (4: 1-3). In the vision of Isaiah, Judah is shown as the place to which all nations will come for “instructions in righteous living.” The result will be universal peace. This prophecy which explicitly concerns the restoration of Jerusalem, at the same time it applies to the one true Church founded by Christ. The new Temple would not only serve the Jewish people but also draw Gentiles.
Jesus teaches us in St. Matthew’s Gospel, Christ’s second coming would take place without much or any warning at all. Therefore, we should be vigilant and ready to meet him any time. The lesson from the flood is an unexpected catastrophe upon those who were unprepared for it. Noah and family were ready, but the rest of them were distracted by the concerns of the world and were destroyed in God's judgment. Again, Jesus explains, “one will be taken…one will be left” means the righteous will be left like Noah and his family were spared and the wicked will be taken like the rest of them taken in Noah’s time.
The only thing we have to do, according to the conclusion of the first reading, is walk in the light of the Lord. The second reading St. Paul clarifies this in today’s second reading from Romans. Paul provides the motivation for the love that is encouraged in Romans 13:8–10 to follow the commandment of love. The moral law must be kept, but we should do so out of love for God and neighbor rather than merely out of fear or obligation.
God comes again and again in special ways throughout our lives. In order to meet him we need to walk in the Light of the Lord. We need to grow in the law of love. We need to stay awake and be ready. Advent reminds us of and helps us to grow in love and walk in the light of the Lord. Each week when we light the light, it removes the darkness, brightens our life, and prepares us to celebrate Christmas. Let us prepare for it.
On Sunday December 12, 2021, Pope Francis in his Angelus told his audience, “The Season of Advent is meant for this: to stop and ask ourselves how to prepare for Christmas. We are so busy with all the preparations, with gifts and things that pass. But let us ask ourselves what we should do for Jesus and for others!” Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, "Whatever you do in your family, for your children, for your husband, for your wife, you do for Jesus." The Advent reading tells us to stay awake. Stay awake in doing good to others and Jesus prepares for the coming of the Child Jesus. Stay awake in living the love of God and sharing for the end of time. Stay awake in sharing the good news for the end of our own times. Walk in the light of the Lord.
In the first reading we have this beautiful invitation: “Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.”