We begin a new liturgical year, the year of Mark. Every year the Church invites us to contemplate Jesus through the eyes and the perspective of a different evangelist, Gospel writer. Let us allow Mark to lead us during this year to discover and know Jesus as Mark did, we will really enjoy it.
Let us not do a synthesis of the 4 Gospels, because the Gospels are not incomplete biographies of Jesus which we can mix together and get a complete biography. The Gospels narrate real events of the life of Jesus, but the Gospel writers are not interested so much in the event as in the meaning of the event. Thus each one uses some parables that maybe the others do not, or if they use the same they narrate them in a slightly different way. They do the same with the mirables, the sayings of Jesus and the passion, death and resurrection The Gospels are theological reflections of each one of the Gospel writers. Let us enter fully into the Gospel of Mark and let us allow him to lead us during this liturgical year.
The first Reading is taken from the third part of the book of Isaiah, called the Third Isaiah.
This prophet has the difficult mission to maintain the hope of his people that has turned back from exile, and does not see the promises fullfilled in the way they had understood.
As we read this section of the book of Isaiah we perceive a tension between the present worries, and the future hope; between denouncing the crimes, and the messages of courage; the present desilusion and the messianic expectation; the openess to the foreigner and the condemnation of the foreigner. At the end of the book the theme of the exodus which is found in this section, is replaced by the theme of the future Jerusalem, the transfigured city by the fulfillment of the promises.
READING FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT, Is 63:16-17.19.64:2-7
o In the liturgy of the church as well as in the liturgy of Israel we commemorate, we remember in such a way that we make the events of the past present.
o In the beautiful reading of this Sunday, the author says to God that he wants to remember who God is for him, how has his experience been in the past. We say the same thing also.
§ You are our Father and our Redeemer, this is O God your name for ever (63, 16)
§ Eye has not seen, ear has not heard any god who does the wonders that you do for those who hope in you .(64,3) We find this same exclamation in the letter of Paul to the Romans.
§ At the end of this passage the prophet says again to God, You, O Lord, are our father; we are the clay and you are the potter; we are the work of your hands.
§ How much trust do these word reveal, trust in these hands which are fashioning us, cherishing and protecting use even when we are not aware of it, in spite of our sins and our imperfections. His love is unconditional.
o The prophet also remembers the wonders of the past which God has done for his people,
§ In a way it is to remember and to wish also that God make himself present again.
§ That he protect us so that we do not go back to our wrong doing.
§ The prophet says what are these wrong doings and ends up saying to God that in spite of all of this he continues to be our Redeemer and our Creator.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM : Psi 80:2-3.15-16.18-19
LORD, MAKE US TURN TO YOU, LET US SEE YOUR FACE AND WE SHALL BE SAVED
O shepherd of Israel hearken
From your throne upon the cherubin, shine forth.
Rouse your power And come to save us.
Once again O Lord of Hosts
Look down from heaven and see,
Take care of this vine
And protect what your right hand has planted
The son of man whom you yourself made strong.
May your help be with the man of your right hand
With the son of man whom you yourself made strong
Then we will no more withdraw from you
Give us new life, and we will call upon your name.
This psalm is both a lamentation and a supplication.
We can see in this psalm three parts:
§ An initial invocation vv. 2-4
§ A lamentation (vv. 5-8)
§ A supplication (vv. 6.9-20)
The responsorial psalm is taken from the initial invocation and from the supplication.
§ We invoke God as our shepherd, as Lord of hosts and, as creator.
§ We tell him that if he helps us and is with us, we will never abandon him, the last supplication is “give us new life and we will invoke you.”
§ The new life has been given to us in baptism, we can invoke him with complete trust, but also with responsibility.
SECOND READING : 1 Cor 1:3-9
« We read the beginning of this letter of Paul to the community of Corinth.
« In the two first verses, which we will not included in this second reading, Paul introduces himself as an apostole and he introduces also his collaborator Sostenes.
o Sostenes was very well known in Corinth. He had been the head of the local synagogue. His conversion awoke much interest, and maybe he was also a good preacher. All these circumstances were probably the reason for Paul to associate this man to his ministry. To mention him in his letter could help Paul with the community of Corinth, which so often shows so little appreciation for the apostole.
« Today’s reading begins with a greeting in which he wishes the grace and peace of The Most Holy Trinity for the community.
« After that Paul gives thanks to God for the community.
« The Lord will keep them firm until the day of the Lord, which the first communities called “parousia.”
o This word, of Greek origin, was used when the coming of some one was announced. Over time it was used specially for the coming of the emperor o a prince.
o But in this passage Paul does not use the word “parousia”, but the word “apocalypse” which means revelation.
o The use of apocalypse=revelation for the day of the Lord, instead of parousia=coming, helps us to understand the meaning of the Second Coming of the Lord as his manifestation at the end of the human history.
« The community can trust in the Lord because He is the one who called them, and the Lord is faithful to his promises.
GOSPEL: MARK 13:33-37
During the liturgical cycle B we will read from the Gospel of Mark
Ø It is the shortest of the 4 Gospels. It has 16 chapters.
Ø The research at the end of the XIX century and beginnings of the XX century has helped the Church to understand that this Gospel was the first to be written, probably around the years 65 or 70 of our era.
Ø The Gospels of Matthew and Luke use the Gospel of Mark as the base for their Gospels.
Ø This Gospel has been called also the Gospel of the Disciple.
Ø This means that Mark wanted his community to learn how to behave as a disciple of the Lord.
Ø In our liturgy this Sunday we do not read from the beginning of the Gospel, because the Church wants us to reflect on the end of our human history and this is not found at the beginning but towards the end of the Gospel.
Ø The theme of this first Sunday of Advent is the continuation of the theme we were reflecting on in the last Sundays of Year A “Be alert, be vigilant”
Ø We say to the Lord LET US SEE YOUR KINDNESS AND GIVE US YOUR SALVATION.
Ø Be alert but without fear, without worries, with great expectation and confidence because when the Lord comes he will show us his salvation the fruit of his tender love for us.
Ø The person who loves is always waiting for the loved one, Jesus must trully become the Loved One for each one of us, and for the community as such
Ø We expect the Lord with great anticipation, with the desire to be united with him in an eternal embrace.
Ø The one we are waiting for is Jesus. We expect the fulfillment of the promises about the new heavens and the new earth where there will be no more fear, doubts, tears or suffering of any kind. There will be only peace and harmony
LET US CRY OUT WITH THE FIRST COMMUNITIES
COME LORD JESUS! MARANATHA!
AND LET US HEAR THE LORD SAYING TO US
YES, I COME SOON!
The procurator desired very much to please people and, ourselves no less, and, in view that the house we had was not able to admit girls, he looked for one according to his taste and fit for the purpose, and rented it for 80 pesos per month. He did all this, looking for our convenience to please people, but he knew very well that, at that time, neither do I desire more comfort nor was it convenient to please people. What I desired at that time was to be very quiet until the coming of the Royal license for the foundation. I had many motives to think so, and all the rest seemed to me nonsense.
In this occasion I felt very weight down because when he told me to visit the house to arrange the distribution of the rooms, he was already committed up to the point of having already the keys of the house and the contract signed, as I said before. I had great pity of embarrassing him and, at the same time, I desired to please him, but seeing that it was of no profit for our purpose and that the months fly and it is very hard to earn 80 pesos, I did not know what to do. But God our Lord who, in everything has given me a hand and takes care even of the most tiny and domestic things, as a father of families, provided a very easy way in part to please the procurator but not with much noise as with the transfer to another house. Venerable María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 184-185.
As I said, we had the earthquakes and cholera epidemic during the first two years; and yet, between me and my companions, we managed to give missions in every parish in the archdiocese. I made my pastoral visit to each of them and administered the sacrament of Confirmation, remaining as long as it took to confirm everyone. Everywhere we went, we distributed books, holy cards, medals, and rosaries, with the result that everyone was as pleased with us as we were with them.
During that first round of visits and missions we took the trouble to keep a count of all the articles we distributed Journey to Baracoa, First visitation and found that we had given away 98,217 books, either gratis or in exchange for the bad books that people brought in and we destroyed--and there were very many of these bad books. We also gave away 89,500 holy cards, 20,663 rosaries, and 8,931 religious medals. After the first visit we no longer kept track of these things because we ordered such large quantities from Spain, France, and elsewhere that we distributed them throughout the diocese and beyond. May it all redound to God's greater glory and the good of the souls redeemed by Jesus Christ. Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 544-545.
BIBLIOGRAPHYCLARET, Antonio María, Autobiografía.
PAGOLA, José A. El camino abierto por Jesús. PPC 2011.
PARIS, María Antonia, Autobiografía.
SCHÖKEL, Luis Alonso, La Biblia de nuestro pueblo, adaptación del texto y comentarios, 2010.
CONFERENCIA EPISCOPAL ESPAÑOLA, Sagrada Biblia, versión oficial, 2012.