Walking in the light of the Lord

27 November 2022 First Sunday Advent Year A


The opportunity to make a fresh start is something that we all value, especially if we have been struggling with problems which have weighed us down. The tradition of making New Year resolutions illustrates this deep desire to put the past behind us and move on.


Today, the Church begins another liturgical year. The celebration of the birth of Christ is coming: the season of Advent is here, and now is the time to take stock.

Accordingly, the readings for the liturgy guide us to look back on history and learn from it.


The people of the Old Testament were schooled in being able to interpret their story and see the hand of God at work. Put simply, they realised that when they tried to go it alone, they made a mess of things. However, during those periods of their history when they were attentive to the prophets and God’s message they seemed to prosper. In today’s gospel Jesus was encouraging them to look back by reminding them of the story of Noah and the Flood. That was the point of no return in the early chapters of Genesis, when, as they saw it, God had become utterly fed up with them.


Jesus was reminding them that we don’t know what the future holds, so it makes good sense to be attentive and ready for anything. St Paul learnt this lesson and encouraged his friends in Rome to do the same. Once we have discovered the wonder of God’s presence, it does not make sense to live chaotic lives, which are self-destructive.


In the midst of all the ups and downs of their experience, the Jewish people clung to the belief that God would eventually redeem them. Interspersed with all the warnings about the dangers of going astray, there were the promises of better times to come. Isaiah, the greatest of the prophets, returns to these promises again and again, which is why we will hear a lot from him throughout the season of Advent.


The opening chapter of his book is a heartfelt call to repentance. Later, in chapter two, we hear of his first great vision of redemption: all the nations will stream to the Temple of the Lord and people will learn to live without needing to go to war. The invitation is to “walk in the light of the Lord”.


You are reading this because you have been blessed with the gift of faith that Jesus is that light, and he came into the world 2000 years ago, demonstrating how that prophecy of Isaiah can be fulfilled. As we prepare for Christmas this year, listening to and learning from the New Testament writers as they quote the prophets of old, let us pray that the Lord will deepen our faith in his abiding presence with us – Emmanuel.


Timothy J Buckley CSsR

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