The First Sunday of Advent
                                                                                    November 27, 2022

                                                                                                                        Fr. José Maria de Sousa Alvim Calado Cortes, F.S.C.B.
                                                                                                                                                                           Pastor of the Church of St. Peter
                                                                                                                                                                                North St. Paul, Minnesota

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Sunday Reading Meditations

Today marks the beginning the powerful liturgical season of Advent. Jesus is coming to transform and restore the world. 

Advent is my favorite liturgical season. As Pope Benedict once said, “Advent [...] invites us to pause in silence to understand a presence” (Homily in Celebration of First Vespers of Advent, November 28, 2009).

Today’s first reading uses the verbs “climb” and “walk”: “Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain” (Is 2:3) and “Let us walk in the light of the Lord” (Is 2:5). This is a time to elevate our lives to God and allow his light to illuminate us. We are invited to leave what is small behind and cling to the infinite. In the second reading, St. Paul says: “Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Rm 13:12).

Advent is the season to leave the desires of the flesh behind and intensify the desires of the Spirit. The apostle admonishes us to “[p]ut on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh” (Rm 13:14).

Since Jesus ascended into heaven, the Church has been awaiting his final coming. In today’s Gospel, Jesus urges us to be vigilant as we await the coming of the Son of Man. During Mass, we exclaim: “We proclaim your death, O Lord, and profess your resurrection until you come again.” For more than 2,000 years, the bride has been praying for the coming of her divine bridegroom: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:20), which are the last words of the Bible.

We need Jesus’ presence. We need his coming. We need his fullness of life.

St. Bernard said there are three different comings: “We know that there are three comings of the Lord. The third lies between the other two. It is invisible, while the other two are visible. In the first coming, he was seen on earth, dwelling among men; he himself testifies that they saw him and hated him. In the final coming, all flesh will see the salvation of our God, and they will look on him whom they pierced. The intermediate coming is a hidden one; in it, only the elect see the Lord within their own selves, and they are saved. In his first coming our Lord came in our flesh and in our weakness; in this middle coming he comes in spirit and in power; in the final coming he will be seen in glory and majesty” (St. Bernard of Clairvaux (Sermo 5, In Adventu Domini, 1–3: Opera Omnia, Edit. Cisterc. 4 {1966}, 188–190).

Jesus is coming now, albeit surreptitiously. This is the season for our desire for his coming to intensify. 

I remember that my father traveled a lot when I was a boy. He was the chief of marketing at a company. As soon as he left on a business trip, I started anticipating his return. However, when my mother would tell me that he was to arrive the next day, my anticipation increased significantly. On the day of his homecoming, every noise or movement outside felt like a sign. When the doorbell rang, there was the utmost expectation: he was behind the door and bringing me—a present!

In today’s first reading, the prophet Isaiah says: “Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain” (Is 2:3). To climb the mountain is to intensify our desire for Jesus, to increase our hope in his coming, not only at the end of the world but now, at every moment.  Let us start the Advent season by asking the Lord to show us his transformative and restorative love. During this season, may he manifest his glory and majesty to us. May Our Lady, whose anticipation is greater than that of all other human beings, strengthen our hope and certainty that Jesus is coming. Come, Lord Jesus!  Amen.