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First Sunday of Advent
First Sunday of Advent
As we begin Advent the three scripture readings sum up the threefold preparation we make over the next four weeks.
In the gospel Jesus invites us to look back, to remember what it was like in Noah's day, and to look forward to his return at the end of time. Both are a time of decision, and we must be ready, the Son of Man is coming like a thief in the night. A slightly alarming metaphor but balanced by the prophesy of Isaiah in the first reading. In those days to come there will be no more war, peoples without number will stream to the temple of God, to walk in the light of the Lord. And St Paul in the second reading reminds us that the time has come now, wake up, now let us live in the daytime of God's presence.
... and our response
That's the heart of Advent, we look forward with readiness and hope for the end of time, we look back and remember the coming of our saviour born in Bethlehem and we decide now to make our choices, to behave, to live remembering what has happened and anticipating what is to come.
And in each of these actions, remembering, looking forward and acting now, Jesus is present, revealing the love of God. We recall his birth, his passion and death and make them present at Mass. At Mass we offer the sacrifice of the lamb of God who was slain but who is now lives forever in heaven. At Mass we rededicate ourselves to living each day with Jesus who was born and died for us, who dwells in eternal glory in heaven and who gives himself to us now in Holy Communion.
Sacrament of Marriage
These three things are very much a part of the sacrament of marriage which Stefano and Vera are about to celebrate. They will look back to the events that lead them to this day, the day they first met as part of God's wonderful plan and all the ups and downs to today. They will look forward in hope to a life of growing in love, of new life and one day eternal happiness together with God in heaven. And now they act, they make their solemn vows to be faithful, to be united, to be open to life, to give themselves as a sacrifice of love to each other. A decision built on the past and looking to the future.
We must be grateful to and support Stefano and Vera in this marriage because in this Sacrament they make God present in the world. Through their baptism, the love with which they give themselves to each other shares in the divine love Jesus reveals on the cross; along with the priesthood and the religious life marriage is a vocation in which a person is asked very particularly to give up their lives for others, in the case of Vera and Stefano, for each other, in imitation of Christ for the sake of their salvation.
Just as our Advent remembering, acting and looking forward at Mass makes Jesus, born at Bethlehem, crucified and risen, coming again at the end of time present today in the Holy Eucharist, so the remembering, acting now and looking forward of this couple in all aspects of the Sacrament of marriage makes Jesus present now.
The sacrament of marriage is a sacred thing, many of you are privileged to share it, some of you live it, in spite of great difficulties with the heroism of Saints, some of you rejoice in it as an inseparable part of your life, for some of you it's about hard work and sacrifice, but all of you by your marriage make Divine love present now - for this we thank you and all of us now pray for Vera and Stefano.