Gospel Reflection for Sunday the 3rd of December 2023

Gospel Reflection for  Sunday the 3rd of December 2023

First Sunday of Advent

To view the Gospel for Sunday please click here!

Advent is a sacred season in which we prepare spiritually, over four weeks, so that Christ can be born again, hopefully like never before, in our souls. Over these weeks, we are led by the Church to cultivate within us a sense of longing, hope and joyful expectation for the birth of the saviour of the world.  Advent is a time of preparation for this encounter: examining our habits and attitudes in a spirit of conversion and temperance.

The figures of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St John the Baptist are our primary guides in this season. When the Virgin knew that she had conceived the divine child in her by the Holy Spirit she arose and made haste to the hill country to share the good news with her cousin Elizabeth. It is this sense of joyful anticipation that Advent instils within us. John the Baptist demands that we prepare the way of the Lord and to make His paths straight.

Advent, however, is not only a commemoration of the First Coming of Christ but also an anticipation of His Second Coming. He, the Son of God, who is also called the Son of Man, is destined to come at a moment in the future – we do not know the day or the hour – to judge the living and the dead. At that time, He will judge the living and the dead, assigning each soul the justice and eternal destiny it deserves—whether it be a place in heaven, beholding God face to face, or the absence of the vision of God in hell.

In His birth in Bethlehem, the Kingdom of God was inaugurated; the Kingdom of God was “close at hand”. In the Final Judgment, the Kingdom of God will reign everywhere in its completeness. God will be all in all. The righteous will never again be troubled by evil.

The Gospel for the upcoming Sunday, the first of Advent, vividly illustrates the concept of the Second Coming of Christ, likening it to a Master returning from a journey abroad. Although Jesus seemed to depart during His Ascension into heaven, He left His disciples with the promise of a future return. This much-anticipated event is the Second Coming of Christ, and we await it with eager anticipation.

The Gospel illustrates the role of all the baptised in the time of waiting for the Lord’s return, that is, in the time of the Church’s mission. All the baptised are servants and doorkeepers of the treasures of God. Each baptised person has a role to play in the household of God. Whether as bishop, priest, deacon, religious brother or sister, parent, teacher, student, nurse or any of the other stations in life, we each have our own duty in God’s household until the Lord returns. What a privilege and honour it is to be given this responsibility! Our Lord has made us co-operators in the plan of salvation. We are partners with Christ in a great mission.

This Gospel depicts a master-servant relationship as a model for our relationship with Christ. The Gospel of John, on the other hand, offers us a different model when Jesus declares to His disciples: “I no longer call you servants, but friends” (John 15:15). Are these two models of relationship with Christ contradictory? No, they are not. We must cultivate both a master-servant relationship as well as a friend-to-friend relationship with Christ. Each model is indispensable, and one does not negate the other. The reason is that Christ has two natures. He is both God and man. He is both our Master and our friend. We refer to Him as Our Lord and also as our Beloved Brother.

“Stay awake”, Jesus commands us. What does He mean by “Stay awake”? He primarily signifies two things. Firstly, be attentive in prayer, maintaining a constant mindfulness of God in your day-to-day life. Secondly, stay vigilant to avoid falling into temptations such as the temptation to lose faith, the temptation to despair, and the temptation to sin. Remain alert through a disciplined routine of prayer, Bible reading, and the faithful reception of the sacraments of the Church. By adopting these practices, you will be prepared for the Master’s return.

– Fr Eamon Roche