During this Advent season I would like to point out a few things that I believe many churchgoers don’t notice. There are four Sundays during the Advent season and then comes Christmas. The Church has chosen readings pertaining to themes for every Sunday Mass to help us prepare for December 25th.
In the first Gospel reading of the Advent season are words spoken to the Apostles by Jesus. He said that people will die of fright, they’ll be dismayed and perplexed by the signs in the sea and the sky (Luke 21:25-28, 34-36). It is a message of what is to come, that the grandeur and awe-inspiring signs prior to the coming of our Savior will be frightening and perplexing.
In the second Sunday of Advent (Dec. 9, today), we see that “all flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Luke 3:6) in the Gospel reading. We know that not all flesh has yet seen the salvation of God, ie Jesus. Therefore, we are not talking about preparing for the reminiscing of His first coming, Christmas but of Jesus’ Second Coming when He comes after the signs in the sky and the sea that will perplex and frighten. At that time we know that everyone will know the truth of who He is and every knee shall bow (Phil 2:10).
The third Sunday of Advent, which is traditionally Gaudette Sunday, the Gospel reading is one of encouragement. This sentiment is most clearly seen in the second reading when Paul exclaims: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” In fact, just as we feel a sentiment of fulfillment when we give of our time, effort, and belongings this is how Jesus would have us rejoicing, by sharing with others of our good fortunes, to treat others fairly and so on. As Paul said, “Our kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.”
The fourth Sunday of Advent, next week, we have the reading of the Visitation when the expecting Mary goes to visit her cousin in the hills of Judea. Elizabeth greeted Mary with the words “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Indeed, blessed are we all who believe that what was spoken by the Lord about His Coming will be fulfilled!
The rationale for this explanation was to show you that the Church chooses readings for a particular reason trying to make a point and to prepare us for a special day or season, Christmas in this case. You’ll find the Church does the same thing in choosing the different readings for any given Sunday as well so that a particular Sunday will have a general theme to it. I’ll leave it up to you to discern them for yourselves.