First Sunday of Advent

Is 2:1-5; Ps 122; Rom 13:11-14; Mt 24:37-44 (year a)

 ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths.”

The season of Advent, in its prayers and readings, invites us to draw closer to the presence of the Lord. What his presence promises was outlined long ago in the prophet Isaiah’s vision of a peace binding the nations, a world in which nation would no longer lift sword against nation. Swords would be hammered into ploughshares, and spears into sickles.

The vision, reaching back over the centuries, touches the longings of every generation. There is within us all an unfulfilled longing for God’s healing peace and for the reassurance of his presence. Such longing becomes prayer when our hearts cry out “Come, Lord Jesus, come.” The best preparation for such prayer lies in an honest examination of our lives. There is an obvious temptation at this time of the year to devote all our energies to the coming festivities. These most certainly have their place, but can we truly say that festivity alone touches our deepest longings?

St Paul brings urgency to the season of Advent. He declares that the time has come, that we must make ready to welcome the Lord who is closer than we had ever imagined. His words probe aspects of our lives that are so easily ignored, “the things that we prefer to do under cover of the dark”. He gives us a sure hope: “The night is almost over, it will be daylight soon.”

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection