First Sunday of Advent (B)
December 03, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.





Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God,
the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ
with righteous deeds at his coming,
so that, gathered at his right hand,
they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading Is 63:16b-17, 19b, 64:2-7

You, LORD, are our father, our redeemer you are named forever. Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we fear you not? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage. Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, with the mountains quaking before you, while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for, such as they had not heard of from of old. No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you doing such deeds for those who wait for him. Would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in our ways! Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful; all of us have become like unclean people, all our good deeds are like polluted rags; we have all withered like leaves, and our guilt carries us away like the wind. There is none who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to cling to you; for you have hidden your face from us and have delivered us up to our guilt. Yet, O LORD, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 80:2-3,15-16,18-19 

R/. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power,
and come to save us. R/.

Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong. R/.

May your help be with the man of your right hand,
with the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name. R/.

Second Reading 1 Cor 1:3-9

Brothers and sisters: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift
as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Alleluia Ps 85:8


Gospel Mk 13:33-37 

Jesus said to his disciples: "Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'"

Catena Nova

Each person would do well to take thought even now, because when he wills to do so, God looks, and he judges. Those whose lives are geared to the present rather than the future are impressed by the fact that this world’s blessings and sufferings fall to the lot of good and bad without distinction…. Consequently, seeing no evidence of anyone being called to account, such people hold God’s commands in derision. Nevertheless, each person would do well to take thought even now, because when he wills to do so, God looks, and he judges; he will not tolerate an hour’s delay (St. Augustine of Hippo).


Be on the watch. When the body sleeps, nature gets the better of us. Then, our actions do not come from our will but by force from the impulse of nature. When the soul is overcome by a heavy sleep of timidity or sadness, the enemy takes control of it and works through it what it does not want to do. Force dominates nature and the enemy dominates the soul. The Lord’s command about vigilance holds good for both parts of human beings. The body must avoid overpowering sleep and the soul must guard against sluggishness and timidity. In the words of Scripture, Awake you just, and I rose up and am still with you, and, Do not lose heart (St. Ephrem of Syria). 


Advent calls to mind the two comings of our Lord: first the coming of the fairest of the sons of men and the desire of all nations, so long awaited and so fervently prayed for by all the ancients when the Son of God graciously revealed to the world his visible presence in the flesh, that is to say when he came into the world to save sinners; the other that second coming to which we look forward no less than did our ancestors of old. While we await his return our hope is sure and firm, yet we also frequently remind ourselves with tears of the day when he who first came to us concealed in our flesh will come again revealed in the glory which belongs to him as Lord. (St. Aelred of Rievaulx).


They watch for Christ
who are sensitive, eager, apprehensive in mind,
who are awake, alive, quick-sighted,
zealous in honoring him,
who look for him in all that happens, and
who would not be surprised,
who would not be over-agitated or overwhelmed,
it they found that he was coming at once....
This then is to watch:
to be detached from what is present, and
to live in what is unseen;
to live in the thought of Christ as he came once,
and as he will come again;
to desire his second coming, from our affectionate
and grateful remembrance of his first.  (St. John Henry Newman)
[This] is the meaning of this Sunday: a new coming, a new call from the one who is always present; on the part of the one called, the Church and every person who belongs to her body, a new answer, a new act of decision. Before you lie the feasts of the new year of salvation; all are the works of him who comes, all are the mysteries of Christ. The Church with all her readiness of heart desires to give herself up to them, and let them be done on her as God’s work; she wished to share in this work and make it her own, the work of his people, and his bride....Hence, the Church waits, and prays above all for purity, for readiness for the new coming of the Lord in this new sacred year (Aemiliana Löhr).


Lord Jesus,
Master of both the light and the darkness,
send Your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces
to hear Your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things
look forward to Your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways
long for the complete joy of Your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy
seek the joy of Your presence.
We are Your people,
walking in darkness,
yet seeking the light.
To You we say, “Come Lord Jesus!” 

(Henri Nouwen)

But what then is this coming? It is an unceasing generation, an enduring hymn of praise. Christ comes with his treasures, but such is the mystery of the divine swiftness that he is continually coming, always for the first time as if he had never come. For his coming, independent of time, consists in an eternal now, and an eternal desire renews the joys of the coming. The delights that he brings are infinite, since they are himself. The capacity of the soul, enlarged by the coming of the Master, seems to go out of itself in order to pass through the walls into the immensity of him who comes; and a phenomenon occurs: God, who is in our depths, receives God coming to us, and God contemplates God!… (St. Elizabeth of the Trinity)


     Rochester-area residents love to complain about the weather — that and the Buffalo Bills! — although we've been treated to some pretty mild winters these past few year.  Predictions are pretty much the same for this year — as long as El Niño cooperates.  I'm sure though we'll have some memorable events before Easter where the words “Ice,” “Snow,” and “Wind” will have preceded the word “Storm.”  And while I have to admit I’m not fond of winter, I wouldn’t want to live someplace where the weather was always the same, however nice.  I love the four seasons, along with the moods and reflections they evoke.
     And I feel the same about the four seasons of the Church: Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter.  Each with its own beauty, much like winter, spring, summer, and fall.  What’s more, the seasons of Church and Nature reflect each other’s rhythm – as long as you live in the Northern Hemisphere.  I can't quite imagine the summertime Christmases they have in Australia. What's more, if we play close enough attention, the different times of year — both Nature's and the Liturgy's — can also mirror the seasons of our lives with their own traits and transitions.
     Advent is a case in point coming as it does just as fall gives way to winter.  The blazing hues of autumn fade with each November day till before you know it, trees are barren, crisp turns to cold, daylight to twilight, and life to death.  While in concert with nature, Advent speaks of a world swept by foreboding winds, turning ever colder; a world in decay, afraid of the gathering gloom, and lurking death: a world exhausted, fallen asleep -- a world in need of a Savior.
     Isaiah, the prophet of Advent, captures both moods of Mother Church and Mother Nature: We have all withered like leaves, [he says], and our guilt carries us away like the wind (I).  I can think of no better late autumn, Advent mood, which might well match our own disposition should we be weary in body or in spirit.  And as Abraham Heschel reminds us, "The lack of realism, the insistence upon generalizations at the price of a total disregard of the particular and concrete is something which would be alien to prophetic thinking… Theirs is not a timeless, abstract message; it always refers to an actual situation. The general is given in the particular, and the verification of the abstract is in the concrete" (God in Search of Man).
     And yet, the days grow shorter and darker just for a while.  Come the winter solstice, they lengthen with light slowly returning. Nature may lie dormant in seeming death, but life is just beneath the surface, awaiting the summons of a new spring.  Spring starts this year on the feast of St. Joseph — March 19 — just as the swallows return to Capistrano and Easter follows soon after on the 31st.  Even somber Advent ends on a silent night when angels suddenly sing: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to people of good will.”
     For the time being, though, we've put the Gloria away.  It’s out of season.  For we need a time of transition.  Time to feel the fatigue of another year past, and prepare a new year coming.  Time to pray the Lord return for the sake of his servants . . . rend the heavens and come down. Time to wait for awesome deeds we could not hope for . . . deeds not heard of from of old . . . [that] no ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but [ours] do for those who wait for him (cf. I).
     Or, Abraham Heschel, again 
Unless we learn how to appreciate and distinguish moments of time as we do things of space, unless we become sensitive to the uniqueness of individual events, the meaning of revelation will remain obscure… Two stones, two things in space may be alike; two hours in a person’s life or two ages in human history are never alike… Absurd it must be to all those who have no sense for the uniqueness that is in time, for the uniqueness of what happens in time. Why indeed, should one hour out of an infinite number of hours be of particular importance to the history of man? (Ibid)
     And while we wait for God’s time to be fulfilled, we must be watchful, and alert (G) -- watching for signs like those Nature gives, of winter’s approach and winter’s end.  As well as signs like those the Church gives: the Advent wreath with its light increasing week by week and, above all, the Eucharist when Christ comes now until he comes again in glory. 
     Life is full of such signs, if we but open our eyes to see them.  They can be as simple as a gentle snowfall, the smile on a child’s face, an act of unexpected kindness.  Or they can be as striking as a blustery snow squall, the sudden loss of a cherished friend, the creeping frailty of old age.  Whether clear or cloudy, the signs God is near are all around us.  And Advent calls forth the resolve to run forth to meet the Christ [that we] may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom (Collect).
      So welcome the season.  It has much to teach, and much to give.  Not least of which is hope: hope that a new age will dawn on a weary world as it did on Bethlehem; hope it will dawn again at the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ In the meantime, we pray God keep us firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ For God is faithful, by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ, [who is] our Lord, forever and ever.  Amen. (cf. II)

Intercessions (Joe Milner; The Sunday Website)

For patience during this Advent season in each of us: that we may discover God's word in every sound that touches our ears, God's touch in every human embrace, and God's love in every gesture of self-sacrifice among us.

For those who have wandered from their relationship with God: that the memories and hopes of this season will open a doorway to God who loves them.

For world leaders: that they may take the long view of human history and choose to protect and promote life and peace for all people rather than their reputation.

For all who are suffering from violence, famine, persecution, or neglect: that God will destroy the bonds that hold them and open the doors of mercy and compassion for them.

For all refugees, immigrants, and displaced persons who are awaiting a new home or a return to their home: that God will give them patience and guide lawmakers in developing policies to address these issues.

For all who are being persecuted for their religious or political beliefs: that God will give them courage and relieve their suffering.

For all who must wait: that God will strengthen and comfort all who are waiting with the sick, those awaiting a diagnosis, those separated from loved ones, and those who are held unjustly.

Rend the heavens and come down, O God of all the ages! Rouse us from sleep, deliver us from our heedless ways, and form us into a watchful people, that,  at the advent of your Son, he may find us doing what is right, mindful of all you command. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Chant

Offertory Hymn


Peace be to you and grace from Him
who freed us from our sins,
who loved us all and shed His blood that we might saved be.

Sing holy, holy is the Lord,
the Lord almighty God,
who was, and is, and is to come:
Sing holy, holy Lord!

Rejoice in heaven, all ye that dwell therein,
Rejoice on earth, ye saints below;
For Christ is coming soon!

E'en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come,
and night shall be no more.
They need no light nor lamp nor sun,
for Christ shall be their All.

Communion Antiphon


Closing Hymn


Wake, o wake! with tidings thrilling
the watchmen all the air are filling,
arise, Jerusalem, arise!
Midnight strikes! no more delaying,
"The hour has come!" we hear them saying.
Where are ye all, ye virgins wise?
The Bridegroom comes in sight,
raise high your torches bright!
Alleluia! The wedding song
swells long and strong:
go forth and join the festal throng.

Zion hears the watchmen shouting,
her heart leaps with joy undoubting,
she stands and waits with eager eyes;
adorned with truth and grace unending!

See her Friend from heaven descending

adorned with truth and grace unending!

Her light burns clear, her star doth rise.
Now come, thou precious Crown,
Lord Jesus, God's own Son!
Hosanna! Let us prepare
to follow there,
where in thy supper we may share.

Every soul in thee rejoices;
from men and from angelic voices
be glory given to thee alone!

Now the gates of pearl receive us,
Thy presence never more shall leave us,
we stand with angels round thy throne.
Earth cannot give below
the bliss thou dost bestow.
Alleluia! Grant us to raise
to length of days,
the triumph-chorus of thy praise.