Homily 1st Sunday Advent. Year C. 29th November, 2015
This coming Sunday the 29th of November, the first Sunday of Advent , has also been nominated as a Day of Prayer, surrounding the United Nations climate summit in Paris.
Archbishop Mark Coleridge (Brisbane Archdiocese) has asked that we join others in prayer this Sunday as we pray for the best outcomes possible from this crucial gathering of world leaders. You might like to include the following prayer in the General Intercessions in your parish masses this weekend:
“For world leaders as they meet in Paris for the United Nations climate summit. May they be motivated to act for the common good of all peoples and the entire creation, finding creative and effective ways of responding to climate change so that our fragile planet may continue to be a nurturing place for all life.”
You also might find helpful these prayers from Laudato Si’
A prayer for our earth
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.
A Christian prayer in union with creation
Father, we praise you with all your creatures.
They came forth from your all-powerful hand;
they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love.
Praise be to you!
Son of God, Jesus,
through you all things were made.
You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother,
you became part of this earth,
and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.
Today you are alive in every creature
in your risen glory.
Praise be to you!
Holy Spirit, by your light
you guide this world towards the Father’s love
and accompany creation as it groans in travail.
You also dwell in our hearts
and you inspire us to do what is good.
Praise be to you!
Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love,
teach us to contemplate you
in the beauty of the universe,
for all things speak of you.
Awaken our praise and thankfulness
for every being that you have made.
Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined
to everything that is.
God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth,
for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and money
that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
that they may love the common good, advance the weak,
and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out.
O Lord, seize us with your power and light,
help us to protect all life,
to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your Kingdom
of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you!
Advent has begun.
A new church year has also begun.
It is a time of renewal and ‘new beginnings.”
From a church perspective, now is the best time to bring out those inspiring ‘new year resolutions’ and for us to ask God to direct and guide us as we immerse ourselves deeper into the reality of God’s love, compassion , mercy and justice.
We have commenced our four-week preparation for the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord. It is such a short time of preparation that we have to be vigilant, because the busyness of the season could mean that we “blink and miss it.”
The readings this weekend are all about preparing and being ‘ready’ and ‘staying awake’ and being watchful.
I particularly like Saint Paul’s words in the second reading:
“May the Lord be generous in increasing your love and make you love one another and the whole human race as much as we love you. And may he so confirm your hearts in holiness …. (And to) make more and more progress in the kind of life that you are meant to live: the life that God wants….”
The whole point and purpose of our “lives of faith,” is to continue along the path of loving our God by means of deepening our love and reverence for one another.
Our attitudes, our thoughts and actions are intended to foster each day an ever-deeper love, charity and concern for all our fellow brother and sister; that is, all people.
What a wonderful calling. To strive (with the necessary help of God’s grace), to be everything God desires us to be. We are called to grow daily in love, goodwill, peace and forgiveness.
The readings also ask us some important questions: Do you believe that God will indeed fulfil his solemn promises to us? Do you truly believe that in the end, God will come in power and glory to establish in its fullness the Kingdom of God’s peace , justice and mercy? Do you believe that ultimately, honesty, peace, integrity and love will be at the centre of all creation, through Christ?
Come Lord Jesus, teach us your truth and love. Establish your Kingdom in its fullness.
Each year, at this time, Our Archbishop, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, sends us an Advent Pastoral Message. It is a pleasure to include a copy of his message here below:
The Road of Mercy. A Pastoral Message for Advent 2015
Advent Pastoral Message of Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane.
First Sunday of Advent 2015
At the recent Synod of Bishops, there was a lot of talk about mercy; it’s become the key-note of Pope Francis’ ministry. Two other words often heard in Rome were closely related to mercy. The first was “accompaniment”; the second was “discernment”.
“Accompaniment” presumes we’re on a journey. The God who is “with us” leads us on our journey. Like Abraham, we’re given no road-map by the God who calls us to take a new road and then accompanies us on the way. Instead, we’re asked to keep our eye on the God who is with us, because He alone knows where we’re going and how to get there. That’s one reason why prayer is crucial.
“Discernment” means that we have an eye that sees where and how God is with us on the journey. The process of discernment can be messy, even unsettling. Road-maps and rule by decree are clearer and quicker. But they may not be what we need now. We walk by faith – which means that we don’t look for the clear and the quick to discern how and where God is leading us, step by step, into the future He has promised. We trust the one who journeys with us, and therefore we pray – listening to God, especially as we prepare for Christmas.
As Advent begins, we cross a threshold into the Year of Mercy which, for Pope Francis, is deeply connected to the recent Synod process which included the two Synods and all that went before and after them.
When the recent Synod ended, it was clear that the journey wasn’t over. We still have a long way to go. The Year of Mercy is the next phase of the journey. In convening these two Synods, Pope Francis wanted to lead us to a deeper sense of a permanently synodal Church. This is something he’s said since he became Pope. He wants us all to understand that we’re on the road together – journeying, like Abraham, as a weak and sinful people, but called and accompanied by God who won’t leave us where and as we are.
One thing I came to see more clearly through the recent Synod was that synodality – to use one of the new buzz-words – is a permanent feature of the life of the whole Church, not just an occasional feature of episcopal life. We all journey together all the time, not just some of the bishops some of the time. This has many implications.
Journeys are very physical things, as I learn each time I take a long flight. The time of Advent prepares for a birth – and birth is a very physical journey of another kind. According to Scripture, mercy is also a very physical thing. The Latin for mercy is misericordia which means a compassionate heart. But the Bible sees it more physically: for Scripture, the source of mercy is the entrails, even the womb.
The Bible sees mercy as like the love a mother has for her child. A mother loves her child unconditionally. She sees the child just as she or he is. A mother sees all that’s weak or wrong in her child, but she sees much more. Whatever is weak or wrong is surpassed infinitely by the mother’s love for her child, the one she bore in her womb.
It’s the same with God and us. God sees us just as we are – weak and wounded, all of us. God sees our sinfulness far more clearly and comprehensively than we ever do. But God sees more – and because he sees more, God is infinitely merciful, like a mother.
Mercy is a vision of possibility. It sees that much more is possible. In that sense, mercy is the mother of hope. The time of Advent, then, prepares not just for the birth of a child who is God-with-us. It also prepares for the birth of mercy which is also the birth of hope.
As we journey together, the Church becomes a womb. If the Church is a mother, then the Church is also a womb – bringing forth Jesus in the world and therefore giving birth to mercy and hope.
A mother never ceases to accompany the child she conceives and bears in her womb. Mary gives birth to Jesus whom she has borne in her womb; and she stands by the Cross as He dies, just as she shares the joy of His Resurrection. This is the kind of accompaniment mother Church has to offer to all her children, not just some, not just those who are good. The only question is how. That’s where discernment is crucial.
The question isn’t abstract. It’s very practical: what do we have to do to be a more merciful, hope-bearing Church, a Church that really does accompany everyone on the journey, especially the stragglers? One thing we’ll do is welcome refugees from the Middle East into our midst. But there are many others things we’ll be called to do through this Year of Mercy, which will be a challenge to our imagination and our generosity.
If we’re all talk and no action, then we may feel pangs – but they’ll be the pangs of death not the pangs of birth. Advent is about the pangs of birth, which are as physical as the Incarnation when the Word took flesh. The real God is very physical. My hope is that this Advent and our journey through the Year of Mercy will be just as physical, just as real, as we travel the road together.
Archbishop of Brisbane
First Sunday of Advent 2015
Fr Paul W. Kelly
Advent Pastoral Message from Most Rev Mark Coleridge,
Archbishop of Brisbane, First Sunday of Advent.
Intercessions for climate change, brisbane archdiocese.
& prayers from pope francis' encyclical: Laudato Si’
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