Welcome to Advent!! This Sunday is about Universality. In the midst of all we’re dealing with, we begin this season of Advent, as always, with unmistakable optimism. This part of Advent is not about Christmas! The first two weeks, the readings and prayers stir our hopes, not for an annual feast, but for the great return of Christ at the end of time—the Parousia, the Second Coming. Early on, the Church saw the opportunity to use this season to stir up this hope, which we recite every week: “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” We have a vision of a grand time to come, the end of time, when the world will be ready for God’s promises to be fulfilled. What we’re doing now will not be erased; “The building of a new world has already begun, and the elements of the present world are contributing to it       We may not wait passively for it to come about, but must work actively and intelligently to bring it to pass.” (Nocent, O.S.B)

The readings of Luke’s Gospel, used in this new liturgical year starting today, are especially directed to attend to the poor, to women, and the outsider and the outcast. The promise from Jesus to all in today’s Gospel: “Your redemption is at hand!”

This careful planning for times to come will enrich our Christmas, and far beyond. Next week, John the Baptist reminds us what we can do to hasten it. In this time of our own parish planning, and planning by the Archdiocese, the grandest plan of all must be kept in view. That’s what this week is about.

I still hope for a better world—a healthy world, a happy world; a world without such hard divisions between us, even in our own community. I’m still idealistic enough to hope for this, or at least that we “make better progress”. (2nd Reading)

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