Advent: The Lord is Near, Sample Session

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DEACON CHARLES PAOLINO Reflections for Liturgical Year A


Reflections for Liturgical Year A

Dianne M. Traflet, J.D., S.T.D. Censor librorum

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Scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, © 1989, 1993 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America and from the New American Bible, © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Third Sunday of Advent 36

Daily Meditations: First Week of Advent 8

About the Author iv

First Sunday of Advent 3

Daily Meditations: Second Week of Advent 24

Introduction 1


About the Music iv

Daily Meditations: Third Week of Advent 40

Fourth Sunday of Advent 50

Second Sunday of Advent 20

Daily Meditations: December 17-24 55

Appendix: Solemnity, Feast, and Memorials 73

First Sunday of Advent

A small table with one burning candle, perhaps in an Advent wreath. Consider decorating the table in violet, the liturgical color of the Advent season.

✧ Matthew 24:37-44

Form two groups and pray together from Psalm 122 with everyone repeating the response.

R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the LORD. According to the decree for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD. In it are set up judgment seats, seats for the house of David.

✧ Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

✧ Romans 13:11-14



“Let Us Go Rejoicing,” (Psalm 122), Bob Hurd. To download, visit

“Stay awake!”

R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the LORD. I rejoiced because they said to me “We will go up to the house of the LORD,” And now we have set foot Within your gates, O Jerusalem.


R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the LORD. Jerusalem, built as a city with compact unity. To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD.



✧ Isaiah 2:1-5


R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the LORD. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May those who love you prosper! May peace be within your walls, prosperity in your buildings.


R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the LORD. Because of my brothers and friends I will say, “Peace be within you!”

What word, phrase, or image from the scripture reading touches your heart or connects to your experience? Share with the group or write your responses here:

In late Old Testament apocalyptic literature, those who suffer injustice await a full accounting of the conduct of those who oppress them. They glance into the future confidently, expecting that justice will be

R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the LORD.

The Lord is Near — Reflections for Liturgical Year A 4

Because of the house of the LORD, our God, I will pray for your good.

Read aloud Matthew 24:37-44


Two Old Testament themes pervade the parables in today’s gospel passage. The first is an apocalyptic vision that awaits a momentous event. We are invited to look forward with hope to a time, not greatly distant, when the conflicts of life will be resolved. That kind of thinking reflects a present time when things are very far from perfect, usually in matters of justice.


Be prepared for the coming of the Son of Man.

done for them. Here, the reckoning will be between God and his own servants rather than between God and his enemies. It looks more like a theme from the prophet Amos who refers to “the Day of the Lord” (Amos 5:18), a judgment time for God’s own people. God himself determines how faithful his servants have been.

Exile, which was like a separation in the marriage, God again takes back his spouse, and the Covenant is renewed. But when the Messiah comes there will be a celebration of the marriage of God with his people that reaches a joyous peak of consummation, which is the fulfillment of God’s words to Moses: “I will take you as my own people, and you shall have me as your God.” (Exodus 6:7).

The followers of Jesus understood theirs as the messianic time when sins are forgiven, there is no fasting, and people are relieved of their suffering. Yet because the messianic time was cut short by the arrest and execution of Jesus, the fulfillment of God’s plan was yet to come. Jesus would return to finalize his mission. Thus, they awaited the Parousia (his second coming) with fervent anticipation. The Mass has preserved the idea that “Christ will come again.” In the contemporary liturgy, it is declared after the consecration as a prayer of faith:

“When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O LORD, until you come again.”*

Adapted from Matthew: Come, Follow Me by Martin Lang, part of the RENEW Scripture Series

* Memorial Acclamation, in The Roman Missal, trans. The International Committee on English in the Liturgy, 3rd typical ed., (Washington, D.C. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011), page 500.

First Sunday of Advent


In the gospels, there is another dimension to the apocalyptic theme. It is now Jesus, clothed in the Son of Man imagery borrowed largely from the Book of Daniel, who determines which servant has been faithful to his teaching and which has disregarded it. It will be a final time, a time of judgment.

A second theme dwells on the wedding feast as the metaphor for the messianic time. Jesus once referred to the days of his presence with his disciples as a wedding time (Matthew 9:15) and he once told a parable about who should be invited to the wedding feast (Matthew 22:1-14). This theme originates in the Old Testament, starting with the image of Israel as the spouse of God, unfaithful but taken back (Hosea 2:1419). The prophets Jeremiah (31:22) and Ezekiel (16:60) further develop thisAfteridea.the

This is an analogy for today’s gospel passage. Although Jesus’ remarks are often interpreted to mean that folks should avoid sin, because they could die at any time and face God while in an embarrassing condition, we can also take his message in a more constructive way, and especially now.InAdvent, we anticipate our celebration of the birth of Jesus, the event in which God appeared in history in the form of a human being. God did not appear in this way to frighten humanity into submission. Rather, through this act of unconditional love, God provided us with a way to intimacy with the Divine, and that way was Jesus’ gospel of love, charity, and justice, and the example of his life of compassion and

The head of a company I once worked for vacationed for several weeks each year. His office door was open, and the lights were on every workday during his absence. He was in many ways a benign employer, but—whatever he intended—the open door and the glowing lights implied that employees should be on their toes, because the boss might return at any minute.


How do you envision the second coming of Jesus? What ideas or emotions does the idea inspire in you? Share with the group or write your response here:

Some employees may have acted responsibly for that reason. Some may have done so to protect their livelihoods. Most would have been on their toes whether the boss was on the premises or not—because they took pride in their work or because they thought it was the right thing to do.

Advent: The Lord is Near — Reflections for Liturgical Year A 6


humility.Advent reminds us to measure the large and small decisions we make every day by the standard of his teaching and his example. Refreshed by this season, we can continue striving for that ideal, not because we’re afraid to be caught off guard, but because we want to return the love that God gave us in Jesus.

Jesus told his disciples—and he is telling us—to “stay awake” and “be prepared.” How do you apply those words in your daily life? Share with the group or write your answer here.

Consider adopting “The Daily Examen” as a way of reflecting on the events of the day to raise your awareness of God’s presence in your life and discern his direction for you. Visit and click on “Ignatian Prayer” and “The Daily Examen.”



7 First Sunday of Advent


To prepare for the next group session, read Matthew 3:1-12.

Lord Jesus Christ, with the help of the Holy Spirit may we reflect your teaching and your example in every detail of our everyday lives and especially in those actions that affect the lives of others. Amen.


Advent: The Lord is Near — Reflections for Liturgical Year A 8

Let your heart prepare him room.

Read Matthew 8:5-11

“Come and save us, LORD, our God; let your face shine upon us that we may be saved.’’

First Monday of Advent



~ Alleluia verse (Psalm 80:4)


~ Matthew 8:8

Dwight D. Eisenhower once wrote that a frustrating part of being president of the United States was issuing orders and watching the bureaucracy ignore them. That would frustrate any executive, but it must have galled Eisenhower because, like


Take a moment to recall that Advent is about awaiting the birth of our Savior.

Daily Meditations First Week of Advent

Spend two minutes in silence. Then, repeat this passage from Scripture and let it speak to your heart.

“LORD, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.”

This centurion played some part in the Roman occupation of Palestine as an agent of either the emperor or of the puppet tetrarch Herod Antipas. It might not be surprising if this officer was calloused toward the subordinates he ordered around. Instead, the soldier—a gentile—approached Jesus, a Jew, on behalf of a “servant … lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.”Giventherelationship

between Israel and Rome, this centurion risked his own reputation—perhaps he risked much more than that—by going hat-in-hand to a healer who was part of a subjugated people and, to Romans, an exotic religion. The officer, apparently convinced of both the power and compassion in Jesus, humbled himself in a quest to help another human being. He expressed the depth of his humility and his faith in words that must have astounded bystanders who heard them, words that have been assimilated into our liturgy: “I am not worthy, but only say the word.”

I will try to value the lives of all people, regardless of their social standing or background, as at least important as my own.

9 Daily Meditations: First Week of Advent

This evidence of an expansive heart must have impressed Jesus, who was always concerned about the least of his brothers and sisters. In his willingness to trust Jesus without reservation and in his determination to help his servant, the centurion set an example for disciples ever since.


the centurion in the gospel passage for today’s Mass, he was used to military life in which he said to one, “Go,” and he went, and to another “Come here,” and he came.

Lord Jesus, I believe in your power to heal our hearts and souls if we come to you in faith and humility. In my gratitude for your mercy, I will extend my compassion and service to those in material, emotional, or spiritual need. Amen.