Preacher’s Sketchbook: First Sunday of Advent
November 27, 2013
Each week, a Dominican member of the Province of St. Joseph’s Preaching Advisory Board prepares this Preacher’s Sketchbook in anticipation of the upcoming Sunday Mass. The idea of the Preacher’s Sketchbook is to take quotations from the authority of the Church–the Pope, the Fathers of the Church, documents of the Councils, the saints–that can help spark ideas for the Sunday homily. Just as an artist’s sketchbook preserves ideas for later elaboration, so we hope the Preacher’s Sketchbook will provide some ideas for homiletical elaboration.
St. Bernard, Fifth Sermon for Advent
In the first coming, he comes in the flesh and in weakness; in the second, He comes in spirit and in power; in the third, He comes in glory and in majesty; and the second coming is the means whereby we pass from the first to the third.
Peter of Blois, Third Sermon of Advent
There are three comings of our Lord; the first in the flesh, the second in the soul, the third at the judgement. The first was at midnight, according to those words of the Gospel: At midnight there was a cry made, Lo the Bridegroom cometh! But this first coming is long since past, for Christ has been seen on the earth and has conversed among men. We are now in the second coming, provided only we are such as that He may thus come to us; for He has said that if we love him, He will come unto us and will take up His abode with us. So that this second coming is full of uncertainty to us; for who, save the Spirit of God, knows them that are of God? They that are raised out of themselves by the desire of heavenly things, know indeed when He comes; but whence He cometh, or whither He goeth, they know not. As for the third coming, it is most certain that it will be, most uncertain when it will be; for nothing is more sure than death, and nothing less sure than the hour of death. When they shall say, peace and security, says the apostle, then shall sudden destruction come upon them, as the pains upon her that is with child, and they shall not escape. So that the first coming was humble and hidden, the second is mysterious and full of love, the third will be majestic and terrible. In His first coming, Christ was judged by men unjustly; in His second, He renders us just by His grace; in His third, He will judge all things with justice. In His first, a lamb; in His last, a lion; in the one between the two, the tenderest of friends.
Pope Benedict XVI, Homily of December 1, 2012
The liturgical year that we are beginning with … represents for you the journey to live once again the mystery of this faithfulness of God, on which you are called to found your lives, as on a firm rock. In celebrating and living this itinerary of faith with the whole Church, you will experience that Jesus Christ is the one Lord of the cosmos and of history, without whom every human project risks coming to nothing. The liturgy, lived in its true spirit, is always the fundamental school for living the Christian faith, a “theological” faith which involves you in your whole being — spirit, soul and body — to make you living stones in the edifice of the Church and collaborators of the New Evangelization. Especially in the Eucharist the living God makes himself so close that he becomes food that supports us on the journey, a presence that transforms us with the fire of his love.
Pope Benedict XVI, Homily of December 2, 2007
The Gospel passage that has just been proclaimed exhorts us to be “watchful”, which is among other things the key word of the whole of this liturgical period: “Watch, therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming”. Jesus, who came among us at Christmas and will return in glory at the end of time, does not tire of visiting us continuously in everyday events. He asks us to be alert to perceive his presence, his advent, and recommends that we watch and wait for him since his coming is not programmed or foretold but will be sudden and unexpected. Only those who are alert are not taken by surprise. He warns: may it not happen to you as in Noah’s day, when men ate and drank heedlessly and were swept away unprepared by the flood. What does the Lord want to make us understand with this warning, other than we must not let ourselves be absorbed by material realities and concerns to the point of being ensnared by them? We must live in the eyes of the Lord with the conviction that he can make himself present. If we live in this way, the world will become better.
Bl. Pope John Paul II, Homily of September 18, 1987
In the book of the Prophet Isaiah we read about “the mountain of the Lord’s house” raised above all things. The prophet says: “All nations shall stream towards it; many peoples shall come and says: ‘Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths’. For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem”. Yes, the word of the Lord did go forth from Jerusalem. This word is the word of the Gospel. The word of the Cross and Resurrection. Christ charged his apostles to go forth with this word to all the nations-to proclaim it and to baptize. Through baptism Christ comes to every person with the power of his Paschal Mystery. To accept Christ through baptism, to receive new life in the Holy Spirit – this is what it means to become a Christian. In this way, through the centuries, individuals and entire nations have become Christian To be a Christian means to go up to the mountain to which Christ leads us. To enter into the temple of the living God that is formed in us and in our midst by the Holy Spirit. To be Christian means to continue to become Christian, learning from Christ the ways of the Lord so as to be able “to walk in his paths”. To be a Christian means to become one every day, ascending spiritually towards Christ and following him. In fact, as we recall, when Christ first called those who were to become his disciples, he said to them: “Follow me”.
St. John Chrysostom, Homily 24
being prayed for. For it is of Light the arms are! Hence they will set thee forth brighter than the sunbeam, and giving out a great glistening, and they place thee in security: for they are arms, and glittering do they make thee: for arms of light are they! What then, is there no necessity for thee to fight? yea, needful is it to fight, yet not to be distressed and toil. For it is not in fact war, but a solemn dance and feast-day, such is the nature of the arms, such the power of the Commander. And as the bridegroom goes forth with joyous looks from his chamber, so doth he too who is defended with these arms. For he is at once soldier and bridegroom. But when he says, “the day is at hand,” he does not even allow it to be but near, but puts it even now beside us.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Lecture XV
We preach not one advent only of Christ, but a second also, far more glorious than the former. For the former gave a view of His patience; but the latter brings with it the crown of a divine kingdom. For all things, for the most part, are twofold in our Lord Jesus Christ: a twofold generation; one, of God, before the ages; and one, of a Virgin, at the close of the ages: His descents twofold; one, the unobserved, like rain on a fleece; and a second His open coming, which is to be. In His former advent, He was wrapped in swaddling clothes in the manger; in His second, He covers Himself with light as with a garment. In His first coming, He endured the Cross, despising shame; in His second, He comes attended by a host of Angels, receiving glory. We rest not then upon His first advent only, but look also for His second. And as at His first coming we said, Blessed is fire that comes in the Name of the Lord , so will we repeat the same at His second coming; that when with Angels we meet our Master, we may worship Him and say, Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord. The Savior comes, not to be judged again, but to judge them who judged Him; He who before held His peace when judged, shall remind the transgressors who did those daring deeds at the Cross, and shall say, These things hast thou done, and I kept silence . Then, He came because of a divine dispensation, teaching men with persuasion; but this time they will of necessity have Him for their King, even though they wish it not.
Additional Preaching Resources
- The USCCB: Advent Resources
- The Holy See: Advent
- Fr. Thomas Rosica (Salt and Light Media)
- The Torch
- Fr. Francis Martin Website
- Biblius Clerus, a resource of the Congregation for the Clergy
- The Catena Aurea of St. Thomas Aquinas, O.P., for the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
Image: Noah’s Ark Cycle: 3. The Flood, by Kaspar Memberger the Elder (1588)