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"FIRST IMPRESSIONS"

1st SUNDAY OF ADVENT -C- December 2, 2018

Jeremiah 33: 14-16; Psalm 25; I Thess. 3: 12-4:2; Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36

by Jude Siciliano, OP

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Dear Preachers:

AN END OF THE YEAR APPEAL

It is that time of the year again when we reach out to you for help. Our weekly emailings now go to almost 9,000 recipients. Our webpage, "Preacher Exchange," has had 390,000 "hits" since last Advent. We have kept these Spanish and English resources free so those in poorer parishes and the developing world can have access to them. Judging from the emails I get, that is exactly what is happening. We can’t continue this service without your help – so will you?

Every day our community prays for our benefactors. And so you and your loved ones will be remembered at our daily Eucharist and prayer during these special days of Advent and Christmas.

Send tax deductible checks to:

"First Impressions"

(Make payable to:  Dominican Friars )

3150 Vince Hagan Dr.

Irving, Texas 75062-4736

 

Or: For an online donation go to:

http://www.preacherexchange.com/donations.htm

Thank you.



 

The 1st

Sunday of

ADVENT

-2018-

Advent is most often described as a season of waiting. We, of the developed world, find waiting a waste of time and we get jumpy and fidgety if we have nothing to do but wait. While we wait our fears rise to the surface. Maybe that is why we try to keep busy, so those fears can stay down below the surface, and we can go about our daily lives oblivious.

We just went through a tumultuous election time, which reminded us just how divided our nation is. We are also in a risky international environment. Plus, we may have personal anxieties about our health, economic stability, family issues, assault on the environment, etc. These might be suppressed if we stay busy. If we find ourselves paused, or waiting, out of our usual routine, then we feel a loss of control and our fears become the subject of the sentence.

But suppose we embraced our waiting – focused instead on a spirituality of waiting? Advent gives us time to do just that and we have help in the Advent Scriptures and liturgical celebrations so that our fears do not get the upper hand and diminish our hope. Here we will be reflecting on the Scriptures during Advent. They will help us develop a different attitude towards our waiting and direct our prayers away from fear and towards hope.

Jeremiah wrote during another anxious time, to a divided nation: the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah (v. 14). The people hoped for a unified nation – as we do. The prophet promises that a descendent of David, the ideal king, will lead them towards fulfilling their dreams. What they cannot do on their own, God will accomplish through the one God sends them.

A divided nation needs strong, committed and just leadership for stability and harmony. Advent begins with a brief, pointed message from the prophet Jeremiah. He doesn’t need a lot of words to get his message across; he offers the hope that God will provide the urgently-needed leadership. He does not say when this will happen; nor who this "just shoot" will be. The promise is given and the people are invited to put their trust in God’s fidelity to them.

In light of the delinquent behavior of so many world and national leaders we will have to look elsewhere for the "just shoot" who will bring a new and fulfilling reign to our lives. Jeremiah is very certain God will accomplish that hope as he begins his prophecy in no uncertain terms: "‘The days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah.’" While the prophet speaks about the future works of God, he is addressing the present situation of the people. Can we trust that God has not forgotten us and left us on our own with our fears and dread? When we experience the seeming-helplessness of the present moment, can we trust that God sees as well, is strengthening us and giving us reason to hope, not despair?

The cares and fears mentioned above, can cloud and distract our waiting. Besides the hope Jeremiah offered us, Advent begins with a Lucan the passage about the importance of prayer. This has been a theme throughout his gospel. Luke shows Jesus praying frequently, especially when he is about to make a big decision: choosing his disciples (6:12); at his baptism before he enters into conflict with the Pharisees (3:21). He also prayed at his transfiguration (9:29) and as he was dying on the cross (23:46). In Luke’s gospel Jesus encourages the disciples to "Pray constantly," and "Watch." Which is what he advises in today’s gospel passage. "Be vigilant at all times," and "Beware, that your hearts do not become drowsy."

The coming of Jesus is a twofold event in Advent. Later this month we will focus on Jesus’ birth; now we look to his second coming. Today’s gospel passage is in jarring apocalyptic language, as it describes the ending of the cosmos. The apocalyptic style depicts collapse of all that seems so fixed – sun, moon and the stars. "The powers of the heavens will be shaken." A once-thought secure world is not as secure as we thought. And so we are challenged to ask ourselves: What and on whom have we relied? How reliable are the humans and powers on which we have invested our energy and hopes?

While others "die of fright" before such catastrophes, Jesus advises us not to collapse in fear, but to see his presence coming amid the turmoil. Apocalyptic language, in its dramatic way, describes our world coming apart. At such times our tendency is to flee and find refuge: will it be with distracting overwork, drugs, alcohol, and computer gaming etc.? Instead of looking elsewhere, Luke is encouraging us to hope. Rather than turning away and hiding from the fearful events around us, we are encouraged, "Stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand."

It feels like the Church is going through an apocalyptic crisis: the foundations are shaken and the walls are trembling. It is a fearful and doubting time for many. The confidence we may have had in our seeming-secure leadership has cracked. Luke’s Jesus assumes that, with his coming, there will be new life – a birthing again of God in our world. When he does come, the "just shoot" will guide us to God’s ways.

Advent is pregnant with a promise of new beginnings. We have an opportunity to grow, or develop from scratch, a spirituality of waiting – a time of hope – as we pray constantly for ourselves, our world and our Church in the ancient prayer of Advent – "Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus, Come!"

Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/120218.cfm

JUSTICE PREACHING ESSAY

We have posted an essay by Lyle May (a inmate on North Carolina’s death row) on our webpage. It is a response to John Grisham’s newspaper article against the death penalty. Go to:

 
http://www.preacherexchange.com/jp_responding.htm

 

JUSTICE BULLETIN BOARD
 

May the Lord make you increase and abound in love

for one another and for all.

(1 Thessalonians 3:12)

As we enter the Advent season, we begin this week in active waiting and anticipation. Paul, not surprisingly, says that in preparation for what is coming, love is the rule. We are called to grow in love for everyone and thereby have the ability to stand blameless before God when Christ returns.

Loving others should be an easy thing for us to do. After all, God is love and we are made in God’s image. Yet, loving people who are not like us, who are "other," is a challenge. Perhaps, this little exercise by an American spiritual teacher named Richard Alpert (aka Ram Dass, "servant of God") might give us a way to reflect on the walls we create to prevent us from loving the other. He writes:

"When you go out into the woods, and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.

The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying ‘You are too this, or I’m too this.’ That judgment mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are."

Let us begin this exercise by examining our views of migrants and refugees. After all, Jesus began his earthly life in flight from persecution. Pope Francis states in one of his addresses (5/24/13): "They are human people, I stress this, who are appealing for solidarity and assistance, who need urgent action but also and above all understanding and kindness. God is good, let us imitate God. Their condition cannot leave us indifferent. Moreover, as Church we should remember that in tending the wounds of refugees, evacuees and the victims of trafficking, we are putting into practice the commandment of love that Jesus bequeathed to us when he identified with the foreigner, with those who are suffering, with all the innocent victims of violence and exploitation."

In this first week of active waiting, increase your love and appreciate these "others" just the way they are.

---Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS

Director of Social Justice Ministries

Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh, NC

FAITH BOOK

Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.

From today’s Gospel reading:

Jesus said to his disciples:

"The powers of the heavens will be shaken."

Reflection:

The apocalyptic language of today’s gospel depicts the collapse of all that seems so fixed – sun, moon and the stars. A once-thought secure world is not as secure as we thought.

So we ask ourselves:

  • What and on whom have we relied for security and hope in times of crisis?
  • Have these been supportive and sustaining?

POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES

"One has to strongly affirm that condemnation to the death penalty is an inhuman measure that humiliates personal dignity, in whatever form it is carried out."

---Pope Francis

Inmates on death row are the most forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I post in this space several inmates’ names and addresses. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of them to let them know we have not forgotten them. If you like, tell them you heard about them through North Carolina’s, "People of Faith Against the Death Penalty." If the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.

Please write to:

  • Eric Glenn Lane #0667195 (On death row since 7/11/05)
  • Eddie Lamar Taylor #0762634 (8/24/05)
  • William H. Raines #0526698 (9/9/05)

----Central Prison, 4285 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4285

For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network: http://catholicsmobilizing.org/resources/cacp/

Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty:  http://www.pfadp.org/

DONATIONS

"First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at jboll@opsouth.org.

If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

St. Albert Priory 3150 Vince Hagan Drive Irving, Texas 75062-4736

Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars. Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation: http://catholicsmobilizing.org/resources/cacp/http://www.PreacherExchanhe.com/donations.htm

ANNOUNCEMENTS

1. We have compiled Four CDS for sale:

  • Individual CDs for each Liturgical Year, A, B or C
  • One combined CD for "Liturgical Years A, B and C."

If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.

You can order the CDs by going to our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.com and clicking on the "First Impressions" CD link on the left.

2. "Homilías Dominicales" —These Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily scriptures are written by Dominican sisters and friars. If you or a friend would like to receive these reflections drop a note to fr. John Boll, O.P. at Jboll@opsouth.org.

3. Our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.com - Where you will find "Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First Impressions" and "Homilías Dominicales," as well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and other material pertinent to preaching.

4. "First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at the above email address.
 


Thank you and blessings on your preaching,

fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

Jude Siciliano, OP - Click to send email.

 

St. Albert the Great Priory of Texas

3150 Vince Hagan Drive

Irving, Texas 75062-4736

frjude@judeop.org

972-438-1626


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