Scripture Studies, December 2, 2018 First Sunday of Advent

December 2, 2018 First Sunday of Advent

HAPPY NEW YEAR! This Sunday we celebrate the First Sunday of Advent and begin the cycle of the Liturgical year all over again. This Sunday we begin Year C in which the reading selections are built around the Gospel of Luke. Advent is a celebration lasting for four Sundays which focuses on the “already” and the “not yet” aspects of Christianity as we wait for the complete manifestation of the Kingdom. Among the things pointed out by the Advent season are the three ways in which Christ entered and still enters our world:

  1. He was born in Bethlehem about 2000 years ago.
  2. He comes to us every day in each of our sisters and brothers.
  3. He will come again in glory as the victorious, Messianic King of Kings.

We begin the Advent season this Sunday by considering the last of these three ways in which Jesus comes. The first reading is a prophecy by Jeremiah which has always been seen by Christians as having been fulfilled in Christ. The second reading provides encouragement in the proper way to spend our time as we await the Lord’s return. The Gospel reading provides Jesus’ instructions on how we are to wait for Him and how we ought to respond to His return. The readings call on me to reflect on what my reaction would be. Would my love for Jesus give me cause to rejoice at His return or would I be fearful of the truth that He brings with Him? It is not too late. Because His love for me is part of the truth that He brings I can be saved by that love and meet Him “erect and raise my head because my redemption is at hand.” It does, however, require a decision. It requires that I accept His love and salvation.

First Reading: Jeremiah 33:14-16

14 The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah. 15 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. 16 In those days Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure; this is what they shall call her: “The LORD our justice.”

NOTES on First Reading:

This is the longest continuous passage in the Book of Jeremiah that is not found in the Greek version. It appears to be the postexilic composition of an inspired writer who acted as a redactor (editor) and frequently used parts of the prophecies of Jeremiah in a sense different from the one originally intended by the prophet. The Church has always taken this passage as a prophecy about Jesus.

* 33:14-26 The prediction of an eternal Davidic dynasty, Jer 33:14-17, to fulfill the prophecy of Nathan , 2 Sam 7:11-16, and of a perpetual priesthood and sacrifice, Jer 33:18, was not to be realized even in the restoration of the Jewish nation after the exile. The prophecy finds its fulfillment only in Jesus of Nazareth, who combined an eternal priesthood with His messianic Davidic kingship. See Hebrews 6:20; 7:24-25.

* 33:15-16 The redactor uses the oracle of the future king from 23:5-6. Jerusalem replaces Israel in the prophecy.

Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2

May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, 13 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.) 4:1 Finally, brothers, 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. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

NOTES on Second Reading:

The reading is part prayer and part exhortation. The prayer begins in verse 11 which immediately precedes our reading. Since ancient style and custom did not allow the placement of direct prayers in a letter this prayer is in the form of a blessing although it is more properly a prayer of intercession. In verse 11 the first petition is addressed to God our Father and to the Lord Jesus but the verb is singular as if the Father and Jesus are to act as one.

* 3:12 The second petition is addressed to Jesus as the risen Lord who will return in glory. He asks for a superabundance of love directed both within and beyond the local community of believers. The apostles are to serve as examples and models of love.

* 3:13 The third petition asks for strength that they may be found holy and blameless at the return of Jesus. The word translated as “coming” is a technical term “Parousia” which literally means “presence” and focuses on the coming of Jesus as Lord. See similar language in 1:10; 4:16-17; 2:19; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thes 2:1,8,9; Matt 24:3;27,37,39; Jas 5:7,8; 2 Peter 1:16; Zech 14:5.

* 4:1 Paul is diplomatic and gentle yet he speaks with the authority of Jesus Christ. He writes as a pastor, attempting to commend and encourage. He also reminds them of his earlier teaching which will be identified as traditional, by the formula of 2:13 which uses rabbinical language typical for passing on tradition. The emphasis here is on conducting themselves in accord with the faith handed on to them.

* 4:2 Instructions include guidelines on the basis of the Lord’s authority, although not necessarily sayings Jesus actually uttered. As 1 Thes 4:8 implies, the instructions are practical principles that Paul worked out in line with his understanding of the role of the Spirit.

Gospel Reading: Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36

“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. 26 People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” 34 “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 35 like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. 36 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.”

NOTES on Gospel:

This section of the gospel describes the events of the end times that precede the return of the Lord. The cosmic signs are standard prophetic language indicating Divine intervention and involvement in the events. We are admonished to await the Lord’s return, not in fear but in confidence. With the early believers we share the Advent cry of Maranatha! “Come, Lord Jesus!”

* 21:25 Luke returns to the cosmological signs of v 11 but introduces a new element of Christology. Jesus is portrayed as the victorious Son of Man who controls even the forces of evil.

* 21:28 A strong note of hope for the faithful ones is injected here. Rather than cowering in fear the faithful disciples are to stand erect in confidence for the return of Jesus is to result in their redemption and the full realization of all God’s promises in Jesus.

* 21:33 The words of Jesus have eternal significance. Their value and importance will outlast the world itself.

* 21:34-36 This is a short set of admonitions or exhortations. Parallels are 8:11-15;11:5-8;12:22-31,45;18:1-8.

* 21:37-38 The people who will form the foundation of the reconstituted Israel are open to hearing the word of God from His prophet, Jesus. These verses form an inclusio with 19:47-48.</FONT

Scripture text: New American Bible with revised New Testament copyright © 1986,1970, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.
Commentary Sources:
Vince Del Greco
The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (1990) (Eds. Brown, Fitzmyer & Murphy)

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