The Scripture Sharing booklet for Advent 2008 is now available. You can order copies from FDS office for 2 each plus postage.

Ordering

The booklets cost 2 each plus postage. We welcome orders from outside the diocese.

You can order copies from

K&L Faith Development Services

Cathedral Parish Centre,
College Street,
Carlow
Tel: 059-9164084
Fax: 059-9164020

fds@kandle.ie

Editorial

In the spirit of this very important year for those who read the Bible, we have tried to update and to revise once again our Advent booklets. We hope that you are happy with them.

This October, Church Leaders from all over the world met in Rome to see how the Church could renew itself by a fresh look at the role of the Scriptures in the life of the Church. It must have been an exciting time as representatives from many different traditions in the Church dug deep into their history to renew and refresh the approaches towards reading the Bible. We read the Bible on different levels. We read the Bible with our minds and our intelligence, so as to allow a dialogue between the Word of God and our world. We read the Bible to give fresh strength to the Church. The Bible is the engine of the missionary activity of the Church, as it constantly calls us to active Christian engagement. It nourishes the spirit with its beautiful imagery and with its powerful language.

Here, however, in these booklets, we want to help people allow the Scriptures to speak to the heart. We hope that these booklets might allow people to know in their hearts the hopes and joys, the challenges and the opportunities that can come from hearing the Word and keeping it alive in our hearts. The Word is alive. It can help us to discover a real pathway to the love and the mercy of God.

This Advent, we are very thankful to Fr. Marko Rupnik S.J. and to the Centro Aletti for permission to use their mosaics to illustrate this booklet. These mosaics are from different churches in both East and West Europe. It is part of the Mission of the Centro Aletti to allow East and West to learn from one another’s spiritual traditions and to share something of the beauty of their own aspect and outlook on the spiritual journey. Our booklet shows images of Mary, particularly at the Annunciation, where she offered the hospitality of her heart and her body to the Word of God. We have some images of John the Baptist, which may seem gruff and fierce, but serve to remind us of the urgency of the Baptist’s call, and the need to prepare and set priorities in our life. One of the most beautiful images is that of Saint Paul, which we have placed hers alongside our “Ephesus Evening Meditation”. It shows Paul on a journey, with an earnestness in his movement. This might be one of his great missionary journeys, or maybe his spiritual journey, the movement of his heart that allows him to die with Christ, to hang on the Cross with Christ and yet to be alive, to move forward in faith, hope and love. We hope that you can appreciate and enjoy these images.

Thanks to all who help in any way in the production of these booklets. Thanks particularly to Christine for her endless patience and diligence in preparing everything. Thanks to our wonderfully patient printers and designers.

Grace and Peace!

Editor.

First Sunday of Advent

Christ will come in the dark and the night!

PRAYER

As we gather to listen to your Word, Lord,
Let hope move within us!
Help us to be awake to your presence.
When you come to us in the dark of the winter evenings,
May we know you and come to meet you!
With Mary we await you this Advent

Hail Mary…

READING

People can take it in turns to read the Gospel, or else if someone is praying on his/her own, then s/he can read the Gospel a number of times. This should be followed by a time of reflective silence.

First Reading: Isaiah 63:16-17, 3-8
Second Reading: 1st Cor. 1:3-9

Read the Text

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark 13:33-37

Jesus said to his disciples: Be on your guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come. It is like a man travelling abroad: he has gone from home, and left his servants in charge, each with his own task; and he has told the doorkeeper to stay awake. So stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming, evening, midnight, cockcrow, dawn; if he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake!’

WORDS/PHRASES

Suggest that each person says a word or a phrase which stayed with them from the reading (with no comment from anyone else)

REFLECTION

Darkness is a real feature of this time of year. While we now live in baths of electrical light, or we can brighten our paths with the beams of headlights, sometimes we are reminded of how dark it is at this time of year. Nature seems to fall asleep; all seems to be at rest. The land is silent and still. Earth itself rests. It is not the time for anything new, it is just a time to let things be….
But is it? These words are among the last words Christ addresses to his disciples, as he stands with them before the Temple. He warns them against people who will come with messages of doom and gloom, or people who claim to know more than they can know about what the future holds. This is not to be the attitude of his disciples, but rather they are to have an attitude of constant vigilance. There is no slack time, nor a busy time, but rather a constant preparedness to greet the Master.

Christ begins by telling the disciples Be on your guard, stay awake!’ He is coming to the end of his speech, and he recalls their attention. This is important, pay attention!
You do not know when that time is!’ Expect the unexpected; there is no easy wintertime in this discipleship. The trees may fall asleep, the night may dominate, but this is the time to follow Christ all the same. The Gospel of Mark records Jesus’ first words as being The time is fulfilled!’ Here, among his last words of instruction, he comes back to that: from now on it is always the time to follow Christ – not yesterday, not tomorrow, but now, now, always now!

From earliest times, Christians have taken this quite literally. Still Christian monks rise early in the morning to pray vigils’ – a prayer with Psalms and readings, literally to keep watch’. We do not know when the Lord may come, so there is no room for slackness, but a call for readiness!

It is like a person travelling abroad; they have gone from home and left their servants in charge, each with their own task; and they have told the doorkeeper to stay awake.’
The image of the person travelling abroad and leaving their servants in charge is found in each of the Gospels. In Matthew and Mark, however, it is used in the parable about talents. Here, the image is used differently. The servant who is highlighted is the porter, the doorkeeper. He has the charge of guarding the house from those who are not to be allowed in, but also making welcome those who belong. Above all, he watches for the return of the Master, whom he has to welcome particularly.

This image has sometimes been used as a terrifying image. There is another aspect to this however. The coming of the Master will also be a cause of joy for all in the house. When the Master comes, all will be set right once more. The same is true for Christians. The Coming of Christ is a source of hope, for when Christ comes, he will restore us to a real unity with himself and the Father. This is something for which one may hope.

Perhaps we might modernize’ this image. Many of us will probably travel to the airport over the next few weeks to welcome home sons or daughters, brothers or sisters, beloved friends or dear relatives. Most of us know the sensation of standing at the Arrivals door; eyes peeled, heart pounding, watching every face that appears, watching the bags to see from where these people have traveled, wondering if the flight was on time…. and then the moment of real joy as the loved one appears!

Christ calls us to a similar vigilance in the Gospel we read today.

So stay awake because you do not know when the Master of the house is coming, evening, midnight, cockcrow, dawn; if he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep.’
In the time of Christ, travel at night was practically impossible, so the night or early morning were times when one could be a little slack, one did not expect anyone at the different stages of the night. Not so with this Master of the house! There is no slack time’ – he is to be expected at any time!

And what I say to you, I say to all: Stay awake’ This message is not just for the four disciples who were gathered around Jesus in the Temple Court, but rather it is also for us, as we here and now, gather to hear his words.

Allow for a period of five to ten minutes’ silence

PRAYER

We wait in the winter for the coming anew of Jesus Christ. We believe that Christ comes to us in these days, and we ask him to let us recognize him as he comes:

  • We pray for those who find winter a difficult time: may they have hope in their hearts as they remember Christ who comes to us in the darkness!
  • We pray for those who wait for different types of news, those who wait for travellers from afar, those who wait for words from a loved one. May they know God’s hope!
  • We remember all who have asked us to pray for them. We remember them now in silence……..
  • We pray for the Church. May she be a witness to the Christ who comes to us in the great and small events of life!

Our Father…

FINAL THOUGHT

As we go out from here, let us remember that in the winter darkness we can find Christ.
In our homes and families, we can find Christ.
In our sadness and loneliness, we can find Christ.
Just ask him to show himself, and be ready to meet him!