Prepare for Judgment — and Joy

User's Guide to Sunday, Nov. 29

Sunday, Nov. 29, is the First Sunday of Advent (Year C)

 

Advent

An outline of Advent might look like this:

Week 1: Jesus’ wake-up call

Week 2: John the Baptist, a sign to the world

Week 3: John the Baptist’s message of reform

Week 4: Mary and the call to do God’s will

There are several online resources to help you prepare for Advent.

For the Register’s aids, type “Advent Activities” into the search bar above.

For Danielle Bean’s daily Advent email, go to DanielleBean.com and wait for the ad to pop up.

For Holy Heroes’ “Advent Adventure,” visit HolyHeroes.com.
 

Mass Readings

Jeremiah 33:14-16, Psalm 25:4-5, 8-10, 14; 1Thessalonians 3:12-4:2; Luke 21:25-28, 34-36

The first week of Advent sets a stage for what is to come.

The Church’s readings ask us to prepare for Christmas in a serious, radical way — in many ways by doing the opposite of what the world is doing.

Jesus says, “Do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life,” while the world is indulging at parties and stressing out over seasonal preparations.

St. Paul says, “Strengthen your hearts,” and “be blameless in holiness,” while the world’s hearts are becoming more sentimental and blurring the line between the joy of giving and consumerism.

How do we fight against the tide? Jesus Christ himself gives us one way in today’s Gospel: Prepare for Christmas by remembering the Second Coming.

Jesus paints a dire picture in the Gospel: “On earth, nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea. … People will die of fright. … Pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”

The Advent message of the Church to pray, fast and give alms prepares us to “stand before the Son of Man.”

We pray so that our hearts, connected to Christ’s, will be wellsprings of strength.

We fast in order to detach ourselves from the “anxieties of daily life” and become better able to attach ourselves to Christ.

We give alms because we meet Jesus in everyday life through those he has placed around us, and if we don’t serve him in them, we won’t serve him when he comes either.

But take heart. While the Church wants to remind us to prepare for judgment, she also wants us to be joyful.

As Jesus paints a dramatic picture of his coming, the prophet Jeremiah gives a kinder, gentler version: “The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah. … I will raise up for David a shoot.”

Jesus will come like a thief in the night, yes, but he will also come like a baby in the arms of a sinless Mother, drawing the humble to his side.

The more we clear our hearts of what weighs us down, the stronger the joy of Christmas will be. May we prepare well now, in Advent.

 

Tom Hoopes is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas,

where he lives with April, his wife and in-house theologian and consultant, and their children.


 

The Earth is Not Our Mother

“The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate.”—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy