First Sunday of Advent (C)
November 28, 2021
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 Jer 33:14-16

The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will fulfill the promise
I made to the house of Israel and Judah.
In those days, in that time,
I will raise up for David a just shoot ;
he shall do what is right and just in the land.
In those days Judah shall be safe
and Jerusalem shall dwell secure;
this is what they shall call her:
“The LORD our justice.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 25:4-5,8-9,10,14

R/. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.

Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior,
and for you I wait all the day.

Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and teaches the humble his way.

All the paths of the LORD are kindness and constancy
toward those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
The friendship of the LORD is with those who fear him,
and his covenant, for their instruction.

Second Reading 1 Thess 3:12-4:2

Brothers and sisters:
May the Lord make you increase and abound in love
for one another and for all,
just as we have for you,
so as to strengthen your hearts,
to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father
at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen.

Finally, brothers and sisters,
we earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that,
as you received from us
how you should conduct yourselves to please God
and as you are conducting yourselves
you do so even more.
For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

Alleluia Ps 85:8

Gospel Lk 21:25-28, 34-36

Jesus said to his disciples:
“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars,
and on earth nations will be in dismay,
perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.
People will die of fright
in anticipation of what is coming upon the world,
for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
And then they will see the Son of Man
coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
But when these signs begin to happen,
stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand.

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Reflection Questions

  1. What promise are you waiting to be fulfilled?
  2. How does your heart need to be strengthened?
  3. What makes your heart drowsy?

Catena Nova

The Lord says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” He means: “Nothing that is lasting in your world lasts for eternity without change; and everything that in me is perceived as passing away is kept firm, without passing away. My utterance, which passes away, expresses thoughts that endure without change....” Therefore, my friends, do not love what you see cannot long exist. (Pope St. Gregory the Great)

If we try to escape sadness by seeking our consolation in sleep, we will fail to find what we are seeking, for we will lose in sleep the consolation we might have received from God if we had stayed awake and prayed (St. Thomas More).

Do you know the feeling in matters of this life, of expecting a friend, expecting him to come and he delays? Do you know what it is to be in unpleasant company and to wish for the time to pass away and the hour strike, when you may be at liberty? Do you know what it is to be in anxiety lest something should happen which may happen or may not, or to be in suspense about some important event, which makes your heart beat, when you are reminded of it and of which you think the first thing in the morning? Do you know what it is to have a friend in a distant country, to expect news of him and to wonder, from day to day, what he is now doing and whether he is well? Do you know what it is so to live upon a person who is present with you, that your eyes follow his, that you read his soul, that you see all its changes in his countenance, that you anticipate his wishes, that you smile in his smile and are sad in his sadness, and are downcast when he is vexed and rejoice in his successes? To watch for Christ is a feeling such as all these; as far as feelings of this world, are fit to shadow out, those of another.... 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.Year passes after year silently Christ’s coming is ever nearer than it was. O that, as He comes nearer earth, we may approach nearer heaven! O, my brethren, pray Him to give you the heart to seek Him in sincerity. Pray Him to make you in earnest. You have one work only, to bear your cross after Him. Resolve in His strength to do so. Resolve to be no longer beguiled by “shadows of religion,” by words, or by disputings, or by notions, or by high professions, or by excuses, or by the world’s promises or threats. Pray Him to give you what Scripture calls “an honest and good heart,” or “a perfect heart” and, without waiting, begin at once to obey Him with the best heart you have. Any obedience is better than none—any profession which is disjoined from obedience, is a mere pretence and deceit. Any religion which does not bring you nearer to God is of the world (St. John Henry Newman).

Sweet sweet sound of distant waters, falling
On a parched and thirsty plain;
Sweet sweet song of soaring skylark, calling
On the sun to shine again;
Perfume of the rose, only the fresher
For past fertilizing rain;
Pearls amid the sea, a hidden treasure
For some daring hand to gain; —
Better, dearer than all these
Is the earth beneath the trees:
Of a much more priceless worth
Is the old, brown, common earth.

Little snow-white lamb, piteously bleating
For thy mother far away;
Saddest sweetest nightingale, retreating
With thy sorrow from the day;
Weary fawn whom night has overtaken,
From the herd gone quite astray;
Dove whose nest was rifled and forsaken
In the budding month of May; —
Roost upon the leafy trees;
Lie on earth and take your ease;
Death is better far than birth:
You shall turn again to earth.

Listen to the never-pausing murmur
Of the waves that fret the shore:
See the ancient pine that stands the firmer
For the storm-shock that it bore;
And the moon her silver chalice filling
With light from the great sun’s store;
And the stars which deck our temple’s ceiling
As the flowers deck its floor;
Look and hearken while you may,
For these things shall pass away:
All these things shall fail and cease;
Let us wait the end in peace.

Let us wait the end in peace, for truly
That shall cease which was before:
Let us see our lamps are lighted, duly
Fed with oil nor wanting more:
Let us pray while yet the Lord will hear us,
For the time is almost o’er;
Yea, the end of all is very near us;
Yea, the Judge is at the door.
Let us pray now, while we may;
It will be too late to pray
When the quick and dead shall all
Rise at the last trumpet-call. (Christina Rossetti)

We persist in saying that we keep vigil in expectation of the Master.  But in reality we should have to admit, if we were sincere, that we no longer expect anything.  The flame must be revived at all costs.  At all costs we must renew in ourselves the desire and the hope for the great coming.  But where are we to look for the source of this rejuvenation?  From the perception of a more intimate connection between the victory of Christ and the outcome of the work which our human effort here below is seeking to construct (Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin)

Charm with your stainlessness these winter nights,
Skies, and be perfect! Fly, vivider in the fiery dark, you quiet meteors,
And disappear.
You moon, be slow to go down,
This is your full!

The four white roads make off in silence
Towards the four parts of the starry universe.
Time falls like manna at the corners of the wintry earth.
We have become more humble than the rocks,
More wakeful than the patient hills.

Charm with your stainlessness these nights in Advent,
holy spheres,
While minds, as meek as beasts,
Stay close at home in the sweet hay;
And intellects are quieter than the flocks that feed by starlight.

Oh pour your darkness and your brightness over all our solemn valleys, You skies: and travel like the gentle Virgin,
Toward the planets’ stately setting,

Oh white full moon as quiet as Bethlehem! (Thomas Merton)

He will come like last leaf’s fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud’s folding.

He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.

He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.

He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child. (Archbishop Rowan Williams)


Signs of the Times

            There was great excitement a few weeks back about the some parts of the United States seeing a display of the Aurora Borealis.  The Northern Lights are indeed a rare treat but their cause isn’t something you should get too excited over – namely, a strong geomagnetic storm brought on by a significant solar flare and coronal mass ejection.  As the sun enters into its regular 11-year cycle of increasing sunspot activity – expected to peak in 2025 – scientists worry that  a sufficiently strong storm could knock out power grids, satellites, and – God forbid – the Internet.  It would be catastrophic – but the light show would be spectacular! 

            Then there’s the partial lunar eclipse we were treated to this past week – the longest in 600 years.  There won’t be another like it for almost another half-millennium.  You might have seen it where I live – if you were up in the wee hours of the morning and the skies were clear (which is unlikely in Rochester).  But don’t worry if you missed it.  We are directly in the path of a total solar eclipse in 2024 in the middle of an April afternoon.  And even if, as I expect, there will be clouds, you will certainly notice even less light than usual!

            Ah yes, just as Jesus predicted, there will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars; and he adds they will imminent.  Meaning right around the corner, as in, pretty much all the time  – constant little reminders that redemption is at hand.  They’ve been popping up steadily for over two millennia – ever since a Star guided some astrologers to Bethlehem and to a Child, the just shoot Jeremiah foretold (I).  No, there’s nothing new about signs in the sky.  Any more than roaring of the sea and the waves (G)When don’t they roar?

            So all these people I see on YouTube, Catholics included, who are reading the signs in the sky, and are quite certain the end is near,  who are in constant communication with heaven, telling them it’ll happen any day now, well, they’re both right and wrong.  Right because such signs abound, along with the other telling item Jesus mentioned – tribulations.  These are never lacking to human history.  But they’re wrong because, well, signs are just that – signs.  They aren’t really meant to pin anything down – they just point us to a coming Day when we will all stand before the Son of Man. 

            And as for tribulations, I’m sure people who lived through the fall of the Roman Empire, or the Bubonic Plague, or two World Wars might be forgiven if they too thought theirs were the end times.  I can imagine lots more people died of fright in anticipation of what was coming upon the world when Atilla the Hun was at the city gates, or a third of Europe was taken by the Black Death, or Hitler’s armies were on the march. 

            Now I agree that China’s saber-rattling over Taiwan and Russian troops gathering on Ukraine’s borders are nerve-wracking in this nuclear age.  And the disappointing results of the Glasgow climate conference have not exactly allayed my fears about imminent climate disasters.  Nor has a pandemic made me very optimistic about an extinction-level threat lurking in some exotic market or laboratory.  Such tribulations, if and when they come about will indeed assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth unlike any previous calamities in human history.

            So there’s never good reason to be complacent about “the End.”  There is always need of vigilance, vigilance to accompany the ever-present signs and tribulations every age sees.  For you don’t want to be asleep should the Day of the Lord catch you by surprise like a trap.   

            Which is why we need Advent.  To keep us from becoming drowsy.  From going through life half-awake, allowing the anxieties of daily life to distract our attention from One who is coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  All the result of a little too much carousing and drunkenness (G) – meaning all those things we use to deaden awareness and dull our senses to what life is really, and finally, all about.  Idle pursuits keeping us from living blameless lives in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones (II). 

            And this time of year has plenty of such distractions – lights to blot out the sun and the moon and the stars, lights that serve only to eclipse God’s Christ.  So best we sober up, sit up straight, stand erect and raise our heads and let the somber, serious days of Advent unfold even as we await One who, when we least expect, arrives -- no matter how many signs serve to warn us.  Who lives and reigns, world without end.  Amen.



Intercessions (cf. Archdiocese of Adelaide)

On this First Sunday of Advent, as the world is still in the grip of the Covid pandemic, we pray for a new hope and spirit of fraternity.

That the Holy Spirit will guide Pope Francis as he prepares for pastoral visits to Cyprus and Greece, building up trust and friendship with the Orthodox Churches and for the unity of all Christians.


That as the world is bewildered by present events and nations are in agony, may the Church, waiting for Christ’s return, stay awake and pray for strength for all people.


That during Advent we will devote ourselves to loving one another and the whole human race, so that with hearts confirmed in holiness, we may be blameless in the sight of God.


That the people of Myanmar, victims of the military; the people of Lebanon, overwhelmed by economic and political collapse; the people of Afghanistan, violated by the Taliban; and the people of Sudan, trying to re-establish peace, will all be sustained by God.


That in this Time of Advent we will devote ourselves to praying for our fellow Christians persecuted for their faith in Jesus, so that in these difficult times they will live with honesty and integrity.


That our departed will be taken into the presence of our Lord Jesus Christand live with Mary, Joseph and all the Saints.


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).

Interlude (Richard Horn)

A shoot shall come forth out of Jesse,
And a bud shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of life shall be with him,
The spirit of wisdom and truth.
Then the lamb shall lie down with the
And the lion eat straw with the ox,
For the hand of a Child shall lead them
To the peaceable kingdom of God.

From out of the wells of salvation
Will he draw us the water of life;
His waist shall be girdled with justice,
The heart of his heart shall be Love.
He'll come from the end of his heaven,
And the earth shall be torn from its place;
Our lives shall be filled with his radiance
As floodwaters cover the sea.



Closing Hymn

Come, Lord, and tarry not;
Bring the long looked for day;
O why these years of waiting here,
These ages of decay?

Come, for Thy saints still wait;
Daily ascends their sigh;
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come”;
Does Thou not hear the cry?

Come, for creation groans,
Impatient of Thy stay,
Worn out with these long years of ill,
These ages of delay.

Come and make all things new;
Build up this ruined earth;
Restore our faded Paradise,
Creation’s second birth.

Come, and begin Thy reign
Of everlasting peace;
Come, take the kingdom to Thyself,
Great King of Righteousness.