GOSPEL, FIRST READING & PSALM TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):
Welcome everyone to the beginning of a new liturgical year starting with the season of Advent.
We are now in Year B, in which the Church starts a whole new cycle of readings in the three-year cycle of Sunday readings.
We are going to focus this year on the second Gospel, the Gospel according to St. Mark.
So one of the things I want say before we begin is just to keep in mind that Advent, although for us in the secular year is the end of the year, in the liturgical year it is the beginning.
So the Church is going to give us, for the next four weeks, a series of very carefully selected readings that are meant to help us enter into the Advent season, which as you are going to see precisely through the readings, is different than the Christmas season.
Sometimes people tend to get them mixed up with one another, but the Advent season is really the season of preparation and it consists of these four Sundays.
So for this year we are going to begin the first Sunday of Advent with a new gospel, the gospel of St. Mark.
And we are going to start in a place that might be a little surprising to you.
You might think, “well it is the beginning of a new year, so we are going to start at the beginning of the Gospel of Mark.”
But that's not the case, because for Advent what the Church wants us to do is to make two acts of preparation.
First, the obvious one would be the preparation for the celebration of Christmas, which is to come immediately after the Advent season.
But the second act of preparation is preparation for the second coming of Christ, or preparation for the second advent of Christ.
So because those two themes are at the heart of the season of Advent, the Church begins this liturgical year with a reading from the Gospel of Mark.
Not the beginning of Mark, but actually toward the end of Mark's gospel in Mark 13:33-37.
SECOND READING TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):
So implicit in that narrative is that Christ reigns right now with His glorified and resurrected body—which He still possesses—but that He’s hidden from us. He’s invisible. He’s reigning invisibly in the Heavenly realm. But at the end of time, the glory of Jesus, which is invisible to those of us on Earth now—we can’t see it, we look around, it looks like the world is just like it was before—will be made visible when Christ comes in His advent (His final advent), when Christ comes to raise the dead and to judge humanity on the last day.
So the common word for the second coming of Jesus in the New Testament—the most common word is parousia
or presence. It’s the idea that Christ is, in a sense, visibly absent now as He reigns in Heaven, but He’s going to be visibly present in the parousia.
But another word that gets used for the second coming in the New Testament is apokalypsis
—the revelation, the unveiling. You can think of it as the Heavens, so to speak, being parted, and those who are on Earth now being able to see the glory that Christ already possesses but which is invisible to us.
So if you have any doubts about this, you can just look at the beginning of the Apocalypse, which is another name for the book of Revelation. So the word that Paul is using in 1 Corinthians 1 is the same word from which we get the title of the last book of the Bible. So if you turn to Revelation—which, by the way, has no “s” at the end of it. It’s not the book of Revelations; it’s the book of Revelation, singular, the Revelation to John, also known as the Apocalypse. If you look in older translations of the Bible, it will actually—Catholic translations will call this the Apocalypse. And that title comes from the first verse of the book, which says this, Revelation 1:1
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants what must soon take place; and he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is he who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written therein; for the time is near. (Revelation 1:1-3)
So that first word, the revelation of Jesus Christ, is apokalypsis
. It’s the same word Paul uses in the reading for today from 1 Corinthians when he says:
...as you wait for the [apocalypse] of our Lord Jesus Christ…
So apocalypse then, is a term that Paul’s using to refer to the second coming. And that’s
why the Church puts this particular passage on the first Sunday of Advent. Because during the Advent season, the Church turns our attention to two Advents: the first coming of Jesus in the Incarnation, which we celebrate on the feast of Christmas (the feast of the Nativity), and then the second advent of Christ, which will take place at the end of time. But She begins really, with a focus on the second advent. That’s what the Advent season has historically been about—preparing for Christ’s second coming, preparing for His final advent.
For full access subscribe here >