NOTE: Throughout the Advent season, we’ll post a reflection on the readings for the upcoming Sunday in Advent just a few days before so individuals and groups can reflect in anticipation or incorporate it into their meetings, homilies, etc. The reflection will be available on our homepage through the weekend and then archived on our Advent 2022 webpage.
The reflection below is from our Bishop-President, Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv and included in this year’s Advent reflection booklet. The booklet is still available for purchase at this link as an immediate download for your tablet or e-reader for $2.00.
by Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv
Bishop-President, Pax Christi USA
Isaiah 2:1-5 | Romans 13:11-14 | Matthew 24:37-44
“They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into
pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.” (Is 2:4)
The first Sunday of Advent inaugurates a new liturgical year. Because Christmas Day is on a Sunday this year, it means that we have four full weeks of Advent – the longest the season can be. This Advent begins even before the start of December, but there are people already tired of Christmas! Decorations in stores and sales on-line have had a Christmas theme for more than a month and Black Friday has come and gone. Our scriptural readings for the start of this season remind us that Advent is about preparing us for more than Christmas. The liturgical season of Advent is to remind us that as Christmas approaches, we should live always in joyful anticipation of the coming of the Lord and the establishment of God’s reign. Rather than sleigh bells and mistletoe, the Word of God speaks about a major transformation that has already begun.
Today’s Gospel says that it will appear to be “business as usual” right before the coming of the Son of Man; but his followers should be prepared always. Paul tells the Romans that the dawn of the day of the Lord is already breaking through the night sky, so we must be done with deeds of darkness. But it is Isaiah, the poet, who helps us dream and imagine what the day of the Lord will be like. Isaiah will be a faithful companion in the four weeks ahead; he is not afraid to imagine the unimaginable and hope for radical transformation of our “business as usual” world. Today we hear the dream of people streaming towards the mountain of the Lord’s house, with all of the effort that climbing requires, and seeking instruction. The dream of Isaiah is about the day when “one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor train for war again.” That is the dream of Ukrainians for sure, the dream of Palestinians, the dream of so many around the world who want to wake up from their present nightmare of war and violence. But it needs to be our dream as well, in the most prosperous nation in the world with the largest military force.
All I want for Christmas is… for swords to be beaten into plowshares, spears into pruning hooks. Let military budgets be spent on gardening instruments and means to produce food for a hungry world. Let Christians stop using doctrine and disciplines as weapons and learn how much hunger there is for the Word of God. Then we can truly celebrate the Word made Flesh.
What practices will you undertake to “live in joyful anticipation” this season?
>> For more Advent resources and reflections, click here.
6 thoughts on “A reflection for the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, from Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv”
Sunday’s Gospel ends with Jesus’s command, “Be prepared.” Preparing the way for the Way who is Christ will require that we unite our wills with the will of Christ. Only with God’s gracious initiative can we do this.
Thank you for your inspiring thoughts, Bishop Stowe. May we all work to make care and respect for one another and Creation the accepted rule globally and to deem war, destruction, and greed unacceptable for all. Peace.
Bishop Stowe you give such Hope to our Church, to people starving for such Good News as you have shared in this reflection. Thank you for your faithfulness to the Gospel of Jesus.
Let Peace and reconciliation begin with me, and my household as we follow His Light.
Very moving reflection, dear Bishop Stowe. Special thanks for mentioning
the longing of Palestinians as well for justice and peace.