First Sunday of Advent
Theme: Prepare for the coming of the Lord
In this Season of Advent, we are to prepare for Christmas to be worthy to celebrate the coming of the Lord.
The origin of the word Christmas is Cristes Maesse, Old English for the Mass of Christ, first found in 1038. The word Christ, Christos, is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew mashah, to anoint. In the Old Testament, it refers to a king or priest with a special divine purpose.
The belief in a messiah, a person who will redeem the people Israel and usher in a better, more perfect era–the messianic age – is often thought of as one of Judaism’s defining characteristics.
In the Jewish Gemara and Midrash, the redeemer is described in a many ways. He is sometimes a military, political figure and other times a being with supernatural abilities. In another fascinating characterization, the Messiah is said to be on earth already, dressed like a blighted beggar, sitting at the gates of Rome, awaiting Jewish repentance. Broadly speaking, the Messiah will be a descendant of King David who, in the future, will reign over a peaceful and prosperous Israel. Today, Jews await the coming of this messiah.
After the death and resurrection of Jesus, the title Christ gradually became a proper name and the expression Jesus Christ or Christ Jesus became one designation. This shows that the early Christians identified Jesus with the promised Messiah of the Jews.
Today’s first reading suggests that we should put our hope in the Lord who is now fulfilling his promise to do the impossible for the Israelites and Jerusalem with the promise of good leader and security. (The prophet Jeremiah made the prophesy during the Exile, a most trying time for the Israelites).
The second reading and the Gospel from Luke tell us on how to prepare for the coming of Christ, whether it is his first coming, second coming or his coming everyday into our lives,
The keys to prepare, according to Paul in 1 Thess, are to love and to be “blameless in holiness before God”. We are to increase and abound in love not just for one another but “for all” – that is our love should be more encompassing, more universal and should include those other than who we know and love. To be blameless is to love with all our heart, and with the best intentions that we cannot be blamed for anything that may go wrong. Those to be blamed are those with bad intentions and who do not care for their loved ones and friends.
Luke tells us what to avoid as we prepare for the coming of the Lord. He warns us not to “become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life.” He tells us to avoid vices and to always put God in the center of our everyday life.
Altogether, the readings tell us to rejoice for the promised coming of God and to be prepared to welcome him. We are to give love, to lead blameless lives and to avoid drunkenness and not to be distracted with the cares and pleasures of our daily life that we forget God – we are not to be too busy for God. We are to recharge, reboot or even upgrade our spiritual lives as we welcome Christ.
For Reflection and Discussion:  What can you give this Christmas to show your abundant love to those who are not in your inner circle of friends and loved ones?  What are activities that will help you remember and honor God in the face of “anxieties” and pleasures in our daily lives? What can you do as a daily spiritual exercise?
Bibliography: Almazan, “Welcome to our Bible Study: 1st Sunday of Advent” unpublished.December 2006, Catholic Encyclopedia in http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08374c.htm, Etz Hayim, Torah and Commentary (New York, 2001); Plaut (ed.); https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/jewish-messianism/
PLEASE NOTE: The weekly Parashah commentaries represent the research and creative thought of their authors, and are meant to stimulate deeper thinking about the meaning of the Scriptures. While they draw upon the study methods and sources employed by the ISPS-Ratisbonne, the views and conclusions expressed in these commentaries are solely those of their authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of ISPS-Ratisbonne. The commentaries, along with all materials published on the ISPS-Ratisbonne website, are copyrighted by the writers, and are made available for personal and group study, and local church purposes. Permission needed for other purposes. Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome.