Weekly Reflections

First Sunday of Advent: November 28, 2021

HUNGRY FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE (Jeremiah 33:14–16)

The Scriptures of Advent open this year with an appeal for justice and security. Our society longs for a better life the same way ancient Israel and Judah did. We long for safety within our borders. We long for leaders of blameless con-duct. We long for these blessings to last.

During Advent we want to see the fulfillment of God’s promises. God promised peace. God promised safety. God promised good leaders. God promised food, drink, and strength. During Advent we anticipate the fulfillment of God’s main promise: salvation. We await the annual celebration of the birth of Jesus, whose name means Savior and whose mission brought redemption.

But we still await something more. We need God’s presence in our midst now. We need peace in our lives now. We need leaders in whom we can trust, leaders we can admire, leaders who cooperate with the plan of God. And we need them now.

Through Jeremiah, we hear God’s promise for something unique and wonderful: “a just shoot.” God promises a strong sprout of new growth nudging up from the earth. This shoot will flower with justice. The earth and rain will fertilize its seed and make it grow from year to year.

This Advent our society yearns for a just shoot, the fulfillment of God’s promise.

FAMOUS LAST WORDS (1 Thessalonians 3:12 — 4:2)

What would you like your last words to be? What final instructions would you like to give the ones you leave behind? Enjoy life? Work hard? Play more?

We do not know if Paul thought he was sending his last words to the Thessalonians, but it sounds like it as he nears the end of his letter. He believes Jesus is coming soon. He wants this community to be ready, and he does not know if and when he will see them again.

His final instructions are these: “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all.” Paul wants them to love one another.

He realizes it is something they cannot do alone. He asks that the Lord do it for them. He wants the Lord to increase their love. This will make them “blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus.”

As we begin Advent, our thoughts turn to preparations for Christmas. But Paul wants our thoughts turned toward the Second Coming of Christ, not the first. He wants us to be blameless in holiness before God when Jesus comes again.

This season gives us a perfect occasion to practice love. Let us practice it on those we know best and those we know least. Do these last words sound too hard? God will make it possible for us to love even more.

Reflections: Lectionary Bulletin Inserts: Reflections on the First and Second Readings, Year C© 2019 Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications. All rights reserved. Written by Paul Turner. Lectionary for Mass © 2001, CCD.