First Sunday of Advent

Happy New Year!

Although it’s kinda funny, this whole new beginning today, switching from Year C to Year A in the lectionary, and yet we sing the exact same responsorial psalm as last week. Yep, same exact one.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I like it. “Jerusalem, built as a city.” Although then the lectionary has the next line as “with compact unity,” whereas the NAB for Psalm 122 reads “walled round about.” I wonder about this. The walled round about makes me think of Rome, when we were there, where we followed the old wall around for a while, when we got lost after riding the subway. The compact unity makes me think of my own city, so compact, with nowhere to grow. Not that I’m thinking that either Rome or DC is Jerusalem. Or should I be like Blake, bringing Jerusalem home? On these dark satanic grounds?

The first reading is from good old Isaiah:

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.

When, oh Lord? Soon? I suppose I’m not unique in this, thinking that maybe all this might be sorted out in my lifetime. I hear tell that St. Paul himself felt that way too, and he was off by at least two millenia. Still, I sure do love the idea of beating swords into plowshares. (Hmm, feels funny spelling it that way. I’d go with ploughshares myself.)

Next up is St. Paul, being antsy like I am. “You know the time,” he tells us. “It is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.” He goes on to say that salvation is going to come even sooner than anyone thought.

For year A we go back to the Gospel according to St. Matthew. Today’s reading has Christ telling us that none of us knows the hour when the Son of Man will appear. Like a thief in the night, he tell us. I’ve always found that amazingly jarring, the thief in the night simile. Always seems so backwards, so negative, to compare the arrival of Second Coming as like the arrival of a thief. I suppose that’s the point, to defy expectations, to make sure we know that things are going to be might different from now on.

All of the readings then, all about anticipation. It’s that time of year. Something’s coming.