The following is a preview from the Comprehensive Catholic Lectionary, a project by women priests Jane Via and Nancy Corran that aims to include every significant story about women in the bible, eliminate exclusive language for God and humans, and bring a spectrum of Biblical theologies to readers and communities.
Advent reflections (below the readings) will be posted on the Table. Download the complete Advent and Christmas section of the Lectionary to access the entire offering including background notes, alternative readings, and responsorial psalms.
Call to Prayer: Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come (Mark 13:33).
Readings: Lam 5:1-5, 8-15 or Rev 12:1-6; Psalm 137:7, 1-5 ; Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 13:1a, 2, 3b-5a, 7-8, 14-27, 33-37
A Reading from the Book of Lamentations 5:1-5, 8-15
O Holy One, remember what has happened to us! Pay attention and see our disgrace. Our heritage has been handed over to strangers, our homes, to those who do not know us. We’ve become orphans, without fathers. Our mothers are like widows. We pay money to drink our own water! Our own wood comes at a price. With a yoke on our necks, we are driven. We are worn out, but allowed no rest… Servants rule over us, with no one to tear us from their hands. We risk our lives just to get bread, exposed to the desert heat. Our skin heats up like an oven, from the searing blasts of famine. Women are raped in Zion, young women in the cities of Judah. Princes have been hanged, elders shown no respect. Young men carry millstones. Boys stagger under loads of wood. The elders have abandoned the gate, the young their music. The joy of our hearts has ceased. Dancing has turned into mourning.
A Reading from the Second Letter of Peter 3:8-15a
Beloved, you must not ignore this one thing: that with God, one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. God is not slow in carrying out promises, as some think of slowness. Rather God is patient, wanting no one to be lost, and all to come to repentance. But the day of God will come like a thief, and then the cosmos will pass away with an enormous roar. The elements will catch fire and melt away. The earth, and all that is in it, will dissolve in flames. Consider, then, what sort of people we ought to be. We must lead lives of holiness and dedication, as we anticipate and hasten the coming of the day of God, when the cosmos will go up in flames and the elements melt in the heat. Relying on God’s promise, we wait for a new cosmos and a new earth where justice will be at home. So, beloved, while we are waiting, strive to live and be in peace, that God may find us unblemished and above reproach. And consider God’s patience an opportunity to become healed and whole.
A Reading from the Gospel attributed to Mark 13:1a, 2, 3b-5a, 7-8, 14-27, 33-37
As Jesus was making his way out of the Temple area, Jesus said to the disciples, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be one stone left upon another. All will be thrown down. Later, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked Jesus privately, “Tell us when this will happen and what sign there will be when all these things are about to come to an end?… Jesus replied: When you hear of wars and threats of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things happen; but it will not yet be the end. Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes and fires…and there will be famines. These are the beginnings of the labor pains. When you see the desolating sacrilege set up (in the Temple) where it ought not be…, then those in Judea must flee to the hills. The one on the housetop must not go down to enter the house or fetch anything out. The one in the field must not turn back to get a coat. Alas for those who are pregnant and those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that it may not happen in winter. For in those days, there will be suffering such as has not been from the beginning when God created until now, and never will be. And if God had not cut short those days, no human being would survive; but God has cut short those days for the sake of those whom God chose. If anyone says to you at that time, “Look! Here is the Messiah!” or “Look, there’s the one who will save us!”, do not believe it; for false leaders and false prophets will appear and produce signs and wonders to mislead the chosen if possible. Therefore, be watchful. Remember, I have warned you of everything… In those days, after that time of distress, the sun will be darkened. The moon will not give its light. The fiery stars will fall from the heavens and all the powers in the cosmos will be shaken. And then they will see the Chosen One coming in the clouds with great power and splendor. The Chosen One will send out winged messengers, and gather the chosen from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the cosmos. In truth I tell you, before this generation passes away, all these things will have taken place. The heavens and the earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But as for that day or hour, no one knows, neither the cosmic messengers of God, nor the Chosen One. No one knows but God. So, be on your guard. Keep watch. For you do not know when the time will come. It’s like someone going on a journey, leaving home, putting others in charge, each with their own work, and ordering the guard to stand watch. Stay awake! For you do not know when the owner will come home, in the evening, at midnight, at cockcrow, or at dawn. You don’t want the owner to come unexpectedly and find you asleep. What I say to you, I say to all: Keep watch!”
Lamentations describes a desolate period in the history of Israel when the country has been overrun by the Babylonians and most of the population is driven into exile. Careful reading of the “lament” shows how far the world has strayed from the original plan of Creation, or even the original plan of the Promised Land!
Much of our current world continues to reflect the desolation described in the book. Think of those in the world without water, food or safety. As a parent, I sometimes imagine how horrible it would be to watch my child starve or die of thirst. (Like Hagar in the dessert. Gn 21:16) Or, how horrifying it would be to live in a city as it is bombed and know there is no way to assure the safety of my children. What if I were to attempt to escape to safety only to find myself and my children detained in a refugee camp with minimal food, water and safety? Yet, people live under these conditions in many parts of the world. Where is God in all the chaos
“Come,” says my heart, “seek God’s face.”
Your face do I seek.
I yet believe that I shall see Your goodness
in the land of the living.
I wait for You,
Be strong, my heart, and take heart.
With expectant hope, wait.” Ps 27:13-14.
We believe the death and resurrection of Jesus has redeemed the world. The purpose of the Church is to spread the good news by working to bring about salvation to all the nations of earth.
As the reading from Peter describes, we believe, in God’s time, the promise of salvation will be fulfilled. We expect God to come again and restore all of creation.
Acting: God can do all things. God can use me to do one thing. What one thing will I do this week to alleviate the suffering in the world? Can I volunteer locally? Can I send a donation to an organization that helps those hurting from violence or natural disasters? Can I commit to doing either (or both) on a regular schedule?
Waiting and Preparing: As I rush into the Christmas Season with all its many distractions, I will commit to setting aside a few minutes each day to sit with our God. Then, throughout the day, I will stop and be mindful of the present moment.