Old Calendar: First Sunday of Advent
Today the Church celebrates the First Sunday of Advent. This is the beginning of a new liturgical year and the readings will be taken from Cycle A. The Advent liturgy opens with that great yearning cry of the prophets of Israel to the Messiah and Redeemer whose advent they awaited. "Come!" God is not deaf to His people's cry. Fulfilling the promise of salvation made to our first parents at their fall He sent His Son into the world. And the application to all generations of mankind of the redemption that the Son of God made Man obtained for us by His passion continues until the end of time: it will conclude with the end of the world when the Messiah comes to complete His work and lead us into His kingdom. The history of the Church occupies the period between these two great events.In the Mass of this Sunday the whole work of redemption is set before us, from its preparation in Israel's expectancy and its effect on our present lives down to its final fulfillment. The Church, in preparing us to celebrate at Christmas the birth of Him who came to snatch our souls from sin and transform them into the likeness of His own, invokes upon us and on all men the complete accomplishment of the mission of salvation that He came to perform upon this earth. On the first Sunday of Advent, the traditional opening prayer (or Collect) prayed: "Stir up Thy might, we beg Thee, and come". With this request to God to "stir up" His might, this day was traditionally called Stir-Up Sunday. Many families create a traditional plum pudding or fruit cake or some other recipe that all the family and guests can "stir-up." This activity of stirring-up the ingredients symbolizes our hearts that must be stirred in preparation for Christ's birth.
The first reading is taken from the book of Isaiah 2:1-5 in which the prophet makes references to a glorious age in the future, when God will fulfill his promises to the patriarchs...God will yet have a Chosen People who will be loyal to him.The second reading is from the letter of Paul to the Romans 13:11-14 in which St. Paul urges the Roman Christians to keep the purpose of their conversion, of their acceptance of the gospel, of true salvation, always before their eyes. The Gospel is from St. Matthew 24:37-44. In today's lesson it is Christ himself who is asking each one of us so to live our lives that no matter when we are called to judgment we shall not be found wanting. This does not mean that we must always be praying. Nor does it mean that we must take no interest in the affairs of this life. Of the two men working in the field and of the two women grinding corn, one of each was found unworthy, not because of the work he or she was doing, but because that work had for them wrongly excluded God and his purpose in life. The two found worthy had room for God and their own eternal welfare in their hearts — their work was part of their loyal service to God and was a means towards their salvation.In this town of ours all adults are occupied one way or another with earthly affairs and necessarily so. But while these earthly affairs may, and do , become cruel task-masters for some and tie down their whole attention to the things of this earth, for others, thank God, their daily tasks are stepping stones to heaven. The day of reckoning will come, suddenly like a thief in the night for the former, and for the others it will not be a thief breaking in but the Master knocking at their door to take them to himself. — Excerpted from The Sunday Readings Cycle A, Fr. Kevin O' Sullivan, O.F.M.