First Sunday of Advent - 27th November, 2016

Liturgical Reflection

Are we ready? For what?


In his “Parochial and Plain Sermons”, John Henry Newman tries to imagine the second coming. He muses, as Jesus might do:

            “… few will open to me immediately, when I knock.  They will have something
            to do first, they will have to get ready.  They will have to recover from the surprise
            and confusion …  They will need time to collect themselves …  They feel themselves
            very well off as they are; and wish to serve God as they are.  They are satisfied
            to remain on earth; they do not wish to move; they do not wish to change.
                                                                                      (J.H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons IV, 22)

Is this what Jesus sees in our hearts?  On a scale of 1 to 10, how ready are we?

It is only the first Sunday of Advent but from the outset, all three Readings put us baptized Christians on RED ALERT.

            - Stay awake!  (Matt 24:42)
            - Stand ready!  (Matt 24:44)
            - The time has come!  (Rom 13:11)
            - Wake up!  (Rom 13:11)
            - Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord!  (Isaiah 2:3)

Both the Readings and the prayer texts for this first Sunday of Advent urge us to assess our own personal and communal readiness.

Readiness for what, we might well ask?

Listening to Julia Baird reflecting on the result of the recent USA election, it was striking to hear her sum up the situation something like this: “Many people, like us, took Donald Trump literally, but not seriously.  Donald Trump’s followers took what he said seriously, but not literally!”

As publicly committed followers of Jesus, as his hands and feet, his eyes, ears and voice at this time, are we serious about implementing a Gospel vision for our world?  Are we listening intently to the voice of the Holy Spirit in the anxieties of our age?  Are our hearts and minds truly searching for the light of God’s Word?  Is God’s light shining through us?


Today, at the start of this new church year, we are invited to serious contemplative action and serious active contemplation on behalf of our world.  Today, in our hearts and in our lives, let us sing unambiguously: “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord!”  (Psalm 121)

Jill Shirvington OP