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Sunday Evangelium in the Season of Advent

Here are homilies given by Fathers Andrew Pinsent and Marcus Holden during the season of Advent. From Sunday 1st December 2013, the Church will be in the liturgical 'Year A'.

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1st Sunday of Advent

by Father Andrew Pinsent, in Year A      

"How then do we enter the ark and remain in the ark? Well, Jesus warns us that being in the ark, or out of the ark, is a spiritual state more than a physical location. On the day of judgement, he warns us that physical proximity will not determine our eternal destiny - two men will be out in the field, one will be taken and one will be left. We remain in spiritual communion with the Church in practical, every day ways. Our principal means are the Sacraments, especially Confession and Communion. It is also essential however that we develop and maintain a habit of daily prayer. If we put God first in our lives, then we lose nothing. All that we do will ultimately be well-ordered and fruitful. May God keep us safely in the ark of the Church, whatever the storms of this life, and bring us one day safely to the shore of His eternal kingdom."

Readings: Gospel - Matthew 24: 37-44 - Jesus said to his disciples: "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man."

by Father Marcus Holden, in Year B      

"We get to Christmas and when we've eaten all the food and opened all the presents and all the guests have gone home, we could easily say 'What was the point of all that?' As Shakespeare has written: 'Life is but a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. Tis a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.' Without Christ, without eternal life, without heaven, everything can seem as nothing and would be as nothing. The very dissatisfaction at the core of our being with everything, which makes us so different from all other creatures on earth, may be teaching us something. It may not be pointless after all. Is God teaching us that we're made for a love that lasts, for a truth that holds firm, for everlasting life - we're made for God. Advent is the season to put our waiting, our hopes, our desires in order."

Readings: Gospel: Mark 13:33-37: 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 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!'"

2nd Sunday of Advent

by Father Marcus Holden, in Year A      

"Christmas is not just a memory or an aspiration. It's a living experience because the babe who was born still lives and we receive him whom the angels adored. The very word Christmas means the Mass of Christ. We celebrate Christmas by getting in on the act, by gazing in wonder like the shepherds and adoring like the wise men. 'Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make straight his paths.' That's not just a historical call, it's a call to us today. The spirit of Advent present is also the spirit of John the Baptist. He is the last prophet but he is also the first Christian convert, sanctified in his mother's womb. Our faith must lead to conversion - he calls us to repent - it must also lead to action .. Advent is one of the 2 most important times of the year to go to confession .. The message of Advent present is that God can and will surprise us: be not afraid."

Today's Readings: Gospel - Matthew 3: 1-12 - John the Baptist appeared; he preached in the wilderness of Judaea and this was his message: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand."

3rd Sunday of Advent

by Father Marcus Holden, in Year A      

"This joy that we speak about now is a joy that is filled with substance. It means that we're basically and irrevocably a hope-filled people, that Christ is our joy and that he comes to us. That is why we rejoice. We know that on this great stage of the world we are in a divine comedy, not a tragedy. We don't know the details of the script but we know the general outline. We know that it has all been guaranteed in its good endings, no matter how difficult things may get within the story. Life is full of light and shadow but it ends in complete and total light."

Readings: Gospel - Matthew 11: 2-11 - “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”"

by Father Marcus Holden, in Year B      

"There's one thing that can separate us from the joy that has been offered - one thing and one thing only. We often think it’s a situation that takes it away or a person or some suffering or something we don't have, but none of those things really matter, in fact they can be turned to benefits. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in that regard: there's one thing and it's  personal sin. The Holy Father said recently that the only evil in the Church is sin; all the other problems can be traced back to this. And while the other things have a certain importance, they only have a relative importance. Sin is the thing that really separates us, freely chosen sin, but it has a remedy. However big that sin is, however blinding, however blocking it can be for the love of God, for the joy of our souls, that sin can be eradicated. and its remedy - confession. At this time, preparing for Christmas, we're called to return to that sacrament of reconciliation. There's nothing more important."

Readings: Gospel: John 1:6-8, 19-28: A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. '"

4th Sunday of Advent

by Father Marcus Holden, in Year A      
The Sacrament of Confession

"It brings joy to the heart of God when we confess and the priest feels that joy. Don't put off that greatest feeling of being reconciled. Strike while the iron is hot, otherwise the usual cycle of self-deception will take hold of us. Perhaps the greatest feeling in the world is coming away from confession knowing that we are forgiven completely and are one in our relationship with God, that we are fit for heaven, that we are in a state of grace, that light and life have returned to our souls. G.K. Chesterton, when asked why he became a Catholic, would say "To have my sins forgiven." And he said he was afraid because he was fat and he would get stuck in the box, but, after his first confession, someone asked him how he felt and he answered "I may be grey and gouty but I am just 2 minutes old." And that is what happens when we confess - we are reborn, we are revivified to live forever - there is no greater miracle than that. It is the most important preparation now for the coming of Christ at Christmas - think of Mary and Joseph. We are told that they prepare a place for him in a stable. Our souls are lowly stables but we can make of our hearts a place for him. We could bring back love and the way to do this is through confession."

Readings: Gospel - Matthew 1: 18-24 - “.. the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

by Father Andrew Pinsent, in Year B      

"Yet throughout all these centuries of tribulation, the promise of God in the first reading remained, namely that God Himself would make a house in which to dwell, and that the sovereignty of David's line and throne would be established forever. And this is the background against which the events of Christmas are highlighted, like a light set in the darkness, like a mystery at last revealed, in the light of which the whole history of the Old Testament is seen as a foreshadowing and a prefigurement. For what St Paul describes as the Good News is something genuinely and uniquely new in the world, namely that God has become man and dwelt among us. The temple that God has prepared is not the gold and stone of the Temple of Solomon, but the body and blood of Jesus Christ himself. The ark of the covenant is no longer a casket overlaid in gold, but the Virgin Mary, the Immaculate Conception, who held the living Word of God. And when God lies in a manger so that we can at last see him face to face, he is not come to us through the plans and works of a man, but through the loving obedience of a woman who gives us, in a few simple words, the entire key to holiness and to glory: "I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let what you have said be done to me."

Readings: Gospel: Luke 1:26-38: The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. ..'"