Celebrate Sunday Mass - 12.3.23

DECEMBER 3, 2023 -- The First Sunday of Advent

12/3/2023 (2 months ago)

By Deacon Keith Fournier

My friends, brothers, and sisters in the Lord

In an Apostolic Letter entitled,"The Lords Day" (Dies Domini),Pope St John Paul II gave a summary of the Christian understanding of Sunday, and underscored our obligation to honor the Lords Day. The Letter began with these words:

"The Lord's Day - as Sunday was called from Apostolic times - has always been accorded special attention in the history of the Church because of its close connection with the very core of the Christian mystery. In fact, in the weekly reckoning of time Sunday recalls the day of Christ's Resurrection. It is Easter which returns week by week, celebrating Christ's victory over sin and death, the fulfilment in him of the first creation and the dawn of "the new creation" (cf. 2 Cor 5:17). It is the day which recalls in grateful adoration the world's first day and looks forward in active hope to "the last day", when Christ will come in glory (cf. Acts 1:11; 1 Th 4:13-17) and all things will be made new (cf. Rev 21:5)".

Sometimes, Catholics and other Christians refer to Sunday as a "Christian Sabbath". Though well intentioned, this is incorrect. Sunday is "the Lords Day". This apostolic letter cites the biblical sources and the writings of the early Church manuals and early Church Fathers. The readings for the Sunday Mass set a framework for us to reflect on throughout the coming week.

The first reading for this first Sunday of Advent is from the Messianic Prophet Isaiah. We heard the Prophet give voice to the people of Israel who longed for the Lord to come: "Return, for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage. We have long been like those you do not rule, people who do not bear your name. Oh, that you would tear the heavens open and come down -- in your presence the mountains would quake."

As Christians, we know He did "tear the heavens" and He came down, into our midst, in the Person of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, whose saving death was followed by an earthquake! But we now await His return and look for all the ways He comes to us daily. That is what Advent is all about. Preparing the Way of the Lord.

In the second reading, the Apostle Paul tells the Corinthians to live ready. Always looking for the return of the Lord. They did. We need to hear and heed this very same admonition. In fact, a favorite prayer of the early Christians concludes the last book of the Bible, Maranatha. It is an Aramaic word meaning "Come Lord Jesus". Are we living ready? Advent is a great time of conversion which can help us to learn what that really means.

On this first Sunday of Advent, many of the Christian faithful will bring the advent candles out of storage and set them in a wreath. Over these weeks preceding Christmas, Christians around the world will gather, pray and sing together- inviting the coming of the Lord into our lives, our homes, our Churches - and into the world which God still loves so much that He sends His Only Son.

Jesus continues to come to the world through His Mystical Body, the Church, of which we are members. Jesus is the Head of the Body, and as St Augustine proclaimed in a sermon, "the body as a unity cannot be separated from the head."

The word "Advent" is derived from Latin words, ad-venio or adventus, which both signify a coming. It is a liturgical season in the Church which has birthed customs and practices meant to be filled with and fueled by living faith. When they are, they can form a framework, a pattern that moves us forward in the process of continual conversion. That is what the Christian life is all about. We are always invited to begin again and again and again. (2 Cor. 5:17) To always be prepared for the Lord to come and to call all men and women to Him.

This promise of a new beginning is the message Christians bring to an age staggering in existential sadness. The Advent candles we will light symbolize Jesus Christ, the True Light which can dispel the dreariness of an age which has lost hope. The message we proclaim during this wonderful season is that Lord Jesus is always coming for those who look for Him.

The celebration of Advent dates back to the fourth century but the practice of preparing for the coming of the Lord by living as though he is always coming goes back to the very beginnings of the Church. Through the history of the Western Church the season of Advent has become a significant part of the pattern of life, faith, culture, and worship that is Christianity.

During the weeks which precede the Nativity of the Lord Jesus, ("Christ-Mass"), Christians (Catholics and others) are invited by the Church to prepare, to get ready, to make a place for the Lord in our lives and in our homes, to anticipate His coming(s).

The Gospel for this First Sunday of Advent is short, but key to living this Advent season fruitfully. We must "STAY AWAKE". Always watching for the coming(s) of the Lord.

How are we doing?

Have a Blessed Lords Day, and a wonderful Advent

Deacon Keith Fournier

Deacon Keith Fournier, JD, MTS, MPhil

Dean of Catholic Online School

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