“PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD”
First Reading : Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11
Second Reading: 2 Peter 3: 8-14
Gospel Reading: Mark 1: 1-14
* First reading is from the book of Prophet Isaiah. In this passage, Isaiah speaks about the great blessings God is going to bring in the lives of the people of Israel when they return from Babylonian captivity. They are urged to prepare the Way of the Lord and make straight a highway for the Lord by leveling the mountains and hills and all uneven grounds. This theme of how to prepare the way of the Lord is explained and expanded in today’s Gospel.
* Second reading is from the Second letter of St. Peter. In this passage, Peter speaks about the second and final coming of the Lord. At His coming Christ will establish a new heaven and a new earth. For that we should prepare ourselves by living our lives in holiness and godliness. The Apostle warns us that if the Lord appears to be slow in coming, it is only for all people have a chance to repent and be ready to meet Him when He comes.
“John the Baptist”
‘The Voice of the one crying in the Desert’
Today’s Gospel reading is from the first Chapter of St. Mark. This passage introduces us to John the Baptist and his mission. John announces the imminent coming of the Saviour and all people are to prepare for His coming. This great person of John introduces Jesus in the Gospel. John worked no miracles held no office of repute , nor he belonged to any influential group of that time. Yet his importance to Jesus was very unique. He is the only religious leader whom Jesus sought and spoke with affection and admiration. He is described as a voice crying in the wilderness. John introduces Jesus as someone who is more powerful than he. John understands that his importance is precisely because of the greatness of Jesus.
John is challenging all of us during this advent to prepare the way of the Lord and to foster greatness in others without feeling threatened about our own importance. John was a voice crying in the wilderness, a lonely voice that many chose to ignore. Today also there are many lonely voices in this world that go unheeded.
“Mark the Season of Advent by loving and serving others with God’s own love and concern” – St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
“WATCH AND PRAY”
First Reading: Isaiah 63: 16-17, 19, 64: 1,3-8
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1: 3-9
Gospel Reading: Mark 13: 33-37
* First reading is from the book of Prophet Isaiah. In this passage, Isaiah laments over the sad state of the Jews who had returned from exile in Babylon. He recalls God’s past goodness to His people. The Prophet prays that the heavens may be rent open and the saviour comes among His people. This prayer is echoed in the liturgy during the period of Advent.
* Second reading is from the first letter of St.Paul to Corinthians. In this passage Paul thanks God for all the graces the people of Corinth have received. He urges them to remain faithful and sinless as they await the return of the Lord Jesus. Paul assures the Christian community that as they await the coming of Christ in glory, the Holy Spirit keeps us steadfast in bearing witness to Him.
Advent is a time at the beginning of our journey of a new liturgical year. It calls us to wake up to look at our service to God. We are His servants in whom He has placed His enormous trust.
Today’s Gospel reading is from St. Mark. In this passage we have a short little parable. It is about a householder who goes for a long journey. Before leaving, he called his servants and each of them is given a job to do. He urged them to be responsible and not to fall asleep. He singled out the doorkeeper: “When I return, I want to find you awake.”
Christ’s story ends there with that warning ringing in our ears. Let us take this story a little further: Concentrating only on the doorkeeper. Perhaps the greatest danger facing him is not so much that he may all asleep on the job, but rather it will become just another job and nothing more. A person can get used to anything and complacency follows.
Advent invites us to wait in joyful hope for the coming of our saviour Jesus Christ.
“The surest road to hell is the gradual one” – C.S.Lewis.
WELL DONE, GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT”
First Reading: Proverbs 31: 10-13, 19-20. 30-31
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-6
Gospel Reading: Matthew 25: 14-30
* First reading is from the book of Proverbs. This passage gives a description about an ideal wife. She is hard working, a support to the husband and charitable to the poor and the needy. Hence such a person is more precious than any jewels that can be acquired.
* Second reading is from the first letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians. In this passage Paul exhorts the Christians in Thessalonika to be always ready for the second coming of the Lord Jesus which will be unexpected and sudden like that of a thief coming at night. He invites them and all of us that as we are children of the light, let us keep awake for the coming of our Master.
“The Parable of the Talents”
Today’s Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. In this passage the parable of the talents is narrated. In this parable, there are three servants and each of them is given a certain amount of money by their Master and went for a journey. The first and the second are industrious where as the third servant is lazy and a man of excuses. On his return, the Master asks for an account of the money he had entrusted with them. The first servant and the second are praised for their hard work and shrewdness. But the third servant is severely chastised for his laziness and lack of resourcefulness.
Jesus told this parable to explain to us how we should make use of our abilities and talents which are God given. It is certainly not about making money or accumulating wealth for oneself. Through this parable, Jesus is telling us about using our precious time and God given gifts to seek the Kingdom of God. We are expected to develop these gifts and grow as humans and children of God. It is by living that we discover our talents and it is by using them that we grow.
In spite of some negative touch, the parable has a lot of positive and encouraging aspects. Two out of three servants heard those magic words from the Master:”Well done”. To all who are doing their best, to live good lives, the Lord is speaking those words of encouragement, “Well done, good and faithful servant”. Hence the parable reveals the trust, the confidence and the generosity of God towards each one of us.
“It is more important to be faithful than to be successful” – St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
JESUS’ INVITATION TO REST A WHILE”
First Reading: Zechariah 9: 9-10
Second Reading : Roman 8: 9, 11-13
Gospel Reading : Matthew 11: 25-30
* First reading is from the book of Prophet Zechariah. In this passage, the Prophet urges people to rejoice because their promised Messianic Leader is coming. The Messiah will not come as a proud warrior , but he is full of humility. He is victorious but peace loving. He is triumphant but humble. This prophecy finds its fulfillment in Jesus.
* Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to Romans. In this passage, Paul tells the Christian community in Rome and all of us that we have the Holy Spirit living in us. He further adds that authentic Christian life is lived in union with the Spirit of Christ and results in fullness of life. Whereas a sinful and sensual life is a living death and results in the destruction of life.
“Come to Me All Who Labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you Rest”
Today’s Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. In this passage, Jesus openly invites everyone who is humble, gentle and overburdened. There are very few of us who can say that we are not burdened. Jesus is the embodiment of the Heavenly Father’s goodness and all those who follow Him will find true rest and reassurance.
“Come to me” is a great invitation from the Lord. This invitation of Jesus is open to everyone in different ages and to all classes in the Society. To all people who are overburdened – the working, struggling , oppressed, those who do manual works or mental works – to all Jesus offers true rest. No matter who we are and what we do, we all get weakened, tired and enfeebled. Rest is a universal need: we need physical, mental and spiritual rest. Jesus is ready to give us that rest. -
“Lord you have made our hearts for you and they are restless until they rest in you” – St. Augustine.
“We find rest in those we love, and we provide a resting place in ourselves for those who love us” – St. Bernard of Clairvaux.
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other” – St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta
In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks about priority for God in one’s life. Today’s consumeristic world has a shift from God- centeredness to self- centeredness. Jesus says, “whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.”Let us contemplate on our own priorities of life. Is Jesus my first priority? Are my attitude and activities oriented towards Jesus? Whenever one decides to follow Jesus by receiving different sacraments, he /she says “Yes” that Jesus is his/ her priority. But in a long run there is a danger of shift from this priority. One moves from God- centeredness to self- centeredness. He/she creates his/her own priorities. God becomes only his/her sidelined priority. Today Jesus reminds us of our priority. Being a Christian our priority must be JESUS. If at all we have deviated from the priority let us come back to Jesus.
There is something very beautiful and central about the readings this weekend.They speak of the “cost” of discipleship. A very big difference when we follow Christ and “die to sin” – We die with Christ so that we can rise to newness of life, as the readings say.
It reminds us that when we become followers of Christ, it really does change our priorities. We “die” to selfishness and live to “generosity” - And, although we know that there is indeed a cost to following Christ, we do not keep a ledger – we don’t count the cost. Because we follow Jesus’ ways, we can be opposed by others who feel threatened by Christ’s values. We can be rejected by others who are challenged by the Gospel. We must be prepared for the fact that we may lose earthly “things” because of our discipleship and be put at a material disadvantage in terms of material priorities. Still, we are greatly encouraged to know that we are living something greater – life with and in Christ!