1st Sunday of Advent (A)
1. Opening prayer
a) Key for reading:
the Liturgy of the first Sunday of Advent, the Church places us before
an extract of the discourse of Jesus on the end of the world. Advent
means Coming. It is the time of preparation for the coming of
the Son of Man into our life. Jesus exhorts us to be vigilant. He asks
us to be attentive to the events in order to discover in them the hour
of the coming of the Son of Man.
b) A division of the text to help in the reading:
24, 37-39: The coming of the Son of Man will arrive as in the days of
c) The text:
'As it was in Noah's day, so will it be when the Son of man comes. 38
For in those days before the Flood people were eating, drinking, taking
wives, taking husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark,
39 and they suspected nothing till the Flood came and swept them all
away. This is what it will be like when the Son of man comes. 40 Then
of two men in the fields, one is taken, one left; 41 of two women grinding
at the mill, one is taken, one left.
3. A moment of prayerful silence
so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.
4. Some questions
to help us in our personal reflection.
Which part of the text struck you most? Why?
5. For those who desire to go deeper into the theme
a) Context of the discourse of Jesus:
The Gospel of Matthew - In the Gospel of Matthew there are five great discourses, as if it were a new edition of the five books of the Law of Moses. The text on which we are meditating this Sunday forms part of the fifth Discourse of this New Law, Each one of the preceding four discourses enlightens a determinate aspect of the Kingdom of God announced by Jesus. The first one: the justice of the Kingdom and the conditions to enter into the Kingdom (Mt from 5 to 7). The second one: the mission of the citizens of the Kingdom (Mt 10). The third one: the mysterious presence of the Kingdom in the life of the people (Mt 13). The fourth one: to live the Kingdom in community (Mt 18). The fifth Sermon speaks of vigilance in view of the definitive coming of the Kingdom. In this last discourse, Matthew continues the outline of Mark (cf. Mk 13, 5-37), but adds some parables which speak about the need of vigilance and of service, of solidarity and of fraternity.
Waiting for the coming of the Son of Man - At the end of the first century, the communities lived expecting the immediate coming of Jesus (I Th 5, 1-11). Basing themselves on some words of Paul (I Th 4, 15-18), there were some persons who had ceased to work thinking that Jesus was about to arrive (2 Th 2, 1-2; 3, 11-12). They asked themselves: When Jesus comes, will we be taken up to Heaven as he was? (cfr. I Th 4, 17). Will we be taken or left behind? (cfr. Mt 24, 40-41). There was an atmosphere similar to that of today, in which many ask themselves: “Is this terrorism a sign that the end of the world is close at hand?” What should we do in order not to be surprised?” An answer to this question and concern comes to us from the words of Jesus which Matthew transmits to us in the Gospel of this Sunday.
b) Comment on the text:
24, 37-39: Jesus compares the coming of the Son of Man to the days
of the deluge
24, 40-41: Jesus applies the comparison to those who listen to him.
24, 42: Jesus draws the conclusion: “So stay awake”, be vigilant.
24, 43-44: comparison: the Son of man is coming at an hour you do
c) Broadening the information in order to better understand the text:
How should we be vigilant to prepare ourselves? - Our text is preceded by the parable of the fig tree (Mt 24, 32-33). The fig tree was a symbol of the people of Israel (Os 9, 10; Mt 21, 18). In asking to look at the fig tree, Jesus asks to look and to analyze the facts that are taking place. It is as if Jesus would say to us: “You should learn from the fig tree to read the signs of the times, and in this way you would discover where and when God breaks into our history!”
The certainty communicated to us by Jesus - Jesus leaves us a twofold certainty to orientate our journey in life: (1) surely the end will come; (2) certainly, nobody knows anything about the day or hour of the end of the world. “But as for that day and hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels in Heaven nor the Son, no one but the Father alone!” (Mt 24, 36). In spite of all the estimates or calculations that men can do on the date of the end of the world, nobody can calculate with certainty. What gives security is not the knowledge of the hour of the end, but the Word of Jesus present in life. the world will pass but his Word will never pass. (cfr. Is 40, 7-8).
When will the end of the world come? - When the bible speaks about the “end of the World”, it refers not to the end of the world, but to the end of a world. It refers to the end of this world, where injustice and the power of evil reign; these which embitter life. This world of injustice will come to an end and in its place there will be “a new heavens and a new earth”, announced by Isaiah (Is 65, 15–17) and foreseen in the Apocalypse (Ap 21, 1). Nobody knows when nor how the end of this world will be (Mt 24, 36), because nobody can imagine what God has prepared for those who love him (I Co 2, 9). The new world of life without death exceeds everything, just like the tree exceeds the seed (I Co 15, 35-38). The first Christians were anxious to be present in this end (2 Th 2,2). They continued to look up at heaven, waiting for the coming of Christ (Acts 1, 11). Some no longer worked (2 Th 3, 11). But “It is not for you to know times or dates that the Father has decided by his own authority” (Acts 1, 7). The only way to contribute to the coming of the end “in order that the Lord may send the time of comfort” (Acts 3, 20), and give witness of the Gospel everywhere, to the earth’s remotest end (Acts 1, 8).
6. Prayer: Psalm 46 (45)
“God is our refuge! We shall not be afraid!”
is both refuge and strength for us,
7. Final Prayer
Lord Jesus, we thank for the word that has enabled us to understand better the will of the Father. May your Spirit enlighten our actions and grant us the strength to practice that which your Word has revealed to us. May we, like Mary, your mother, not only listen to but also practise the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.
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